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Watch: Council meeting descends into chaos after ‘Indigenous population’ claim

26 Apr 2023 4 minute read
The meeting descended into chaos following points put forward by Cllr William Routley

Emily Price

A council meeting descended into chaos this week after a Tory councillor described the people of Wales as “Indigenous” during a rant about asylum seekers.

During a Newport City Council meeting on Wednesday (25 April) councillors debated the implication of the UK Government’s controversial Illegal Migration Bill.

Cllr Emma Stowell-Corten introduced the ‘city of sanctuary’ item and formally moved the motion.

She called on the leader of the council, to write to Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak “in the strongest possible terms” to outline concerns regarding the new legislation which proposes to detain and remove anyone who arrives to the UK by a small boat.

Cllr Stowell-Corten said: “This council also notes the language that is being used to support this bill which has the potential to cultivate and provide a platform for a culture of abuse, racism and even violence against refugees and minorities.

“As an experienced dispersal area, the council has made a firm commitment in our corporate plan to establish Newport as a city of sanctuary.

“This council calls into question the action of the UK Government in bringing forward this legislations and calls upon the Prime Minister and his Ministers to withdraw these proposals.

“We would also request the leader of the council commits to ensuring that Newport City Council gives full support to all partners and stakeholders in Newport currently working towards city of sanctuary status.”

Debate

Councillors were then invited to debate the motion.

A number of councillors stood to voice their support for the motion and Cllr Deb Davies shared her own Jewish heritage describing her family members who were forced to flee from Eastern Europe in the early 1800’s.

Cllr Davies said: “I am the descendant of refugees, who moved not just for economic purposes, but were asylum seekers who came to the UK seeking sanctuary and were given a place of safety and an opportunity to rebuild their lives.”

Councillor Laura Lacy joined in the debate labelling the Tory Government “useless”.

When Conservative Councillor William Routley was invited to take the floor, the debate descended into disarray.

“Petty”

Cllr Routley branded the motion a “political posturing distraction” and said there was a housing crisis and “lack of basic needs and services” that needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

He said: “Newport has a long long history of providing sanctuary. However I cannot stress enough that the needs of our own Indigenous population must comes first.

“We must priorities their needs and ensure they’re not left behind in the pursuit of refuge for others.”

Councillor Paul Cockeram called a point of order and asked Mr Routley sit back down.

Off camera, another councillor could be heard saying: “Councillor Routley is becoming far too over emotional to make his point clearly and succinctly.”

Cllr Routley stood again and began to argue with fellow councillors branding them “petty petty petty”.

Cllr Paul Cockeram intervened again telling Cllr Routley to “leave it there”.

After pausing for a few seconds, Cllr Routley responded: “It’s still petty” as one councillor seated behind him cradled his head in his hands and others attempted to stifle giggles.

“Cast aside”

Cllr Paul Cockeram raised his voice and said: “Councillor Routley, Councillor Routley, are you kidding? Don’t come back with this all the time ok?”

After wrestling with the microphone, the Tory councillor continued his debate.

He said: “Newport citizens must never be overlooked and cast aside as you would suggest an open door policy here.

“For just because of political posturing we must make sure there’s enough education spaces, which we don’t have, we must make sure there’s enough health care spaces, which we don’t have.

“We’ve got tens of thousands of people who are desparelty seeking proper accommodation. I want to have a policy that is meaningful but there’s no good bringing refugees here if you can’t house them, educate them and look after them.”

Although Cllr Routley voted against the calls for Newport City Council to give full support to all partners and stakeholders currently working towards city of sanctuary status, the motion was still carried due to the majority of councillor’s voting in favour of it.

Nation.Cymru contacted Cllr William Routley and asked what he meant by “Indigenous” but he did not respond.


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GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
10 months ago

So the tories want to get all the English out of Newport? Because they aren’t indigineous to Wales.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
10 months ago

The tories just can’t help themselves, ignorant racist and stupid.

Nia James
Nia James
10 months ago

Cllr. Routley makes sense. It is about time Welsh politicians assisted Welsh people. Once that is done we can then give assistance, as we should, to those from outside our nation who settle here.

Arthur Owen
Arthur Owen
10 months ago
Reply to  Nia James

I agree with you and I am often considered both a Welsh Nat and a bit of a lefty.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
10 months ago

Good old Anglo-Saxon name Routley. Mayhap he should head back to the forests of Northern Germany from whence it came?
More recently it is a locational Middle English name indigenous to North Devon.

Lazar Ionescu
Lazar Ionescu
10 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Probably a descendant of Hengist and Horsa

Ann
Ann
10 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Indeed it isn’t but the UK Government needs to sort out the processing of claims instead of leaving these people in limbo! Many of them could make a great contribution to the country if they were allowed to work legally while claims are processed. Some hotel owners are making profits on horrendous accommodation for them.

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago

It is quite alarming that all sorts of people get dewy eyed about certain groups of indigenous people but here in Wales we are deemed racist if we raise any kind of concern about how we are treated or where we stand when waiting our turn, as in a housing queue. It’s the same problem just that it occurs in a different way when you consider the political, economic and cultural setting. Too often concerns about “the Welsh” are swept aside by people who wouldn’t dream of such a reaction had those concerns been relating to any other ethnicity.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago

Wait, what’s wrong or factually incorrect to say that the Britons of Wales are indigenous? By saying that does not exclude anyone….anyone born in Wales becomes indigenous too. I disagree wholly heartedly on virtually everything Tory, this however I can’t agree more with.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
10 months ago

Many Welsh nationalists have used the word ‘indigenous’ when referring to the Welsh people and language, but now it’s different when a Conservative uses it? Is it now no longer correct to use ‘indigenous people’ of the Americas and Australia or is it only offensive when it applies to the people of Wales and Britain? Both are examples of double standards. In a Nation Cymru article published on 13th April 2023 titled ‘The Crown Estate: violating Wales’ right to profit from its own natural resources’, Haydn Williams wrote the following: “Though we might think the term ‘indigenous peoples’ only applies… Read more »

Hayden
Hayden
10 months ago
Reply to  Iago Prydderch

I agree with councillor Routley that the Welsh are an indigenous people, I’m glad to hear a politician saying it — but it doesn’t automatically follow that Wales should reject migrants who desperately need of our compassion and humanity.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago
Reply to  Hayden

Agree. Within reason.

Brechdan Wncomunco
10 months ago

Jones is the second most common surname in England, Thomas and Williams make the top ten as well. The greatest Welsh speaking city that has ever existed was Lerpwl with over 100 Welsh chapels and at one time more Welsh speakers than all the cities of Wales combined. Also home to the great National of 1927
There are as many people of Welsh extraction living in England as there are in Wales.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago

Yep, not only England. Welsh Diaspora number around 16 million worldwide I believe. No doubt it’s higher, but many wrongly believe they came from England because their Ancestors boat left from Liverpool or Bristol..

Brechdan Wncomunco
10 months ago
Reply to  Riki

I doubt that because genealogist will look at place of birth on the census returns.

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