Councillors condemn presence of extremists in Llantwit Major
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
Councillors have condemned the presence of far-right extremists in a Vale of Glamorgan town during a protest over a new refugee facility.
At a full Vale of Glamorgan Council meeting on Monday, April 24, councillors referenced the former Eagleswell School site in Llantwit Major which is being turned into temporary accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.
Locals showed their support for refugees and opposed far-right extremists who had decided to protest against the accommodation facility in March.
In bringing forward a motion for the Vale of Glamorgan to work towards becoming a County of Sanctuary, the leader of the council, Councillor Lis Burnett, praised the “warmth of welcome” shown to refugees in the town when they were “targeted by far right groups”.
The leader of the Conservatives group at the council, Councillor George Carroll, said discrimination, harassment and intimidation “is never acceptable in our society”, adding: “whilst such incidents are thankfully relatively rare, when they do occur we all have a duty to speak out and to stamp it out.”
“In Llantwit Major recently, Madam Mayor, residents’ legitimate grievances about Eagleswell School site were used by an extreme outside organisation to sow division.”
However, the Tory councillor went on to say that residents in Llantwit Major are “right to express frustration that a site considered by a much needed medical centre is not being used for that purpose”.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council owns the land where Eagleswell Primary School, which closed in 2015, used to be.
Hundreds of petitioners called for the site to be turned into a new health centre in 2021, with many saying that services in the area weren’t keeping up with population growth.
Vale of Glamorgan Council ward member for Llantwit Major, Cllr Gwyn John, denied the claims that plans for a new health centre have been scrapped.
He said: “The rumours that a health centre won’t be built anymore are unfounded and the work that we are doing is still on track.
“Make no mistake about it, we are supporting this motion tonight and we will oppose any racist behaviour in our town.
“The group are very strong in opposing any right-wing activity in our town in the future.”
In voting through the Labour group’s motion, the council will become a member of the City of Sanctuary Local Authority network and work towards accreditation as a County Council of Sanctuary.
Other Welsh councils which are also members (awarded and non awarded), include Swansea Council and Monmouthshire County Council.
Cllr Burnett said: “We should also recognise that providing a welcoming environment, challenging discrimination and negative perceptions and ensuring equality of opportunity is something that we should seek to provide for all Vale residents.
“Accessible and inclusive services should be a core aim for us all, but life is difficult for many Vale residents particularly with current cost of living pressures and homelessness, and in addition, bullying, harassment and intimidation experienced by people just being themselves is all too common.
“They too should have sanctuary and refuge and we have to ask will we achieve it all immediately? No.
“Will we get everything right? No. Will we mean what we say? Yes.
“We will not stop until we rightly deserve county of sanctuary status.”
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