UK Gov’t Lost Control Of Asylum System, But Liberian Asylum Seeker Says It Is A Right For Everybody”
Last Friday, Carmarthenshire council failed in a High Court bid to stop Stradey Park Hotel, in Llanelli, being used to house up to 241 asylum seekers.
The Home Office said the plans were necessary and that the asylum system was under “incredible” strain.
It comes as dozens of protesters, for and against the plans, gathered outside the hotel on Saturday.
Local councilor Martyn Palfreman called on the UK government to “get a grip” of the asylum system – saying it had lost it.
Former racial equality commissioner Aled Edwards also said more work needed to be done in the community to to allay “irrational fears” and “address legitimate ones”.
Maxson Kpakio, 45, is originally from Liberia but has lived in Swansea for 20 years, and came to Wales as an asylum seeker.
“I am an activist who advocates for social justice and peace. Where I see a group talking about peace and love, I am part of them,” he
He was confronted at one point by protesters who oppose the asylum plan.
“I don’t think it was necessary for any confrontation. It was the group from the other side who came to me, and asked me why I’m here, and I told them,” he said.
“We had a frank conversation where I tried to educate them as well. Asylum seeking is a right for everybody.”
‘Locals are scared’
Resident Helen Thomas, who is against the plans, said a lot of people in the community are scared, partly by how the issue has divided locals.
Ms Thomas said some people against the plan have been labelled racist, but said she has friends from many different backgrounds, adding: “I am not racist, I never have been.”
“My plea would be with the UK government to get a grip on an asylum system, which they have clearly lost the grip of,” councillor Martyn Palfreman told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.
“In terms of what happens next and the asylum seekers arrival in Llanelli, the honest answer is I don’t know.”
Police were called to the hotel on Friday after protesters blocked vehicles entering the site
“We’ve been told previously they will be arriving next week, we don’t know any more details in terms of the composition of the group that will be arriving or exactly when they will be arriving,” added Mr Palfreman.
The Labour councillor for the Hengoed ward of Llanelli added that his “real concern” is that the asylum seekers themselves will have anger directed towards them, which he hopes “doesn’t happen”.
Llanelli MP Dame Nia Griffith said she was very disappointed with the outcome of Friday’s hearing.
“I think it’s particularly upsetting for the residents who live closely to the hotel and whilst people have a right to their opinion I would actually beg them to be very considerate,” she said.
“We need to work together with other countries to find solutions that will last… there has to be a really concerted effort to work internationally with partners so there are proper agreements.”
Following Friday’s hearing, council leader Darren Price said he was disappointed and that the authority would consider the judge’s reasons on Monday.
The hotel has seen faced local opposition since it first announced the plans
The hotel has faced local opposition since it first announced the plans
Aled Edwards, the former commissioner for racial equality in Wales, said a conversation was needed with people in the community to allay “irrational fears” and “address legitimate ones”.
“If we spend the time explaining to people what people’s backgrounds are, what they can offer us, what they can bring us… I think it could become much better,” he said.
“But there is a toxicity to the debate around the globe that is not good.”
The Home Office said the number of people arriving in the UK in need of accommodation had reached record levels.
“The Home Office is committed to making every effort to reduce hotel use and limit the burden on the taxpayer,” a spokesman said.