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‘We’re not racist nimbys’ say opponents of Llanelli asylum plan

06 Jun 2023 5 minute read
The Stradey Park Hotel where 207 migrants will be accommodated. Photo via Google

Martin Shipton

Campaigners who oppose a plan to house asylum seekers in a Llanelli hotel have denied that they are a group of “racist nimbys”.

The Home Office wants to house 207 migrants in the town’s four-star Stradey Park Hotel, but in an emergency opponents believe the numbers could rise to 300.

Nearly 400 people attended a public meeting last week and a group called the Furnace Action Committee – named after the village on the outskirts of Llanelli where the hotel is situated – has since been established to campaign against the plan.

At the weekend demonstrations took place outside the hotel, one involving members of the far-right Voice of Wales group which opposes the plan, and the other composed of people who wanted to convey the message that the asylum seekers would be welcome in Llanelli.

Racism

Since opposition to the proposal became clear, some social media posts have suggested that it has been motivated by racism.

Sam Parry, a PhD student at Cardiff University, tweeted in response to an S4C news clip featuring an opponent of the plan:” Great proof that Welsh speakers are also capable of being gormless reactionaries and a truly tolerant nation has to be fought for and will not just come into being because we are somehow inherently better than the English.”

“I’ve got exactly zero time for this point of view. Time for Wales to decide whether being a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’ is just hot air.”

And responding to comments made by Llanelli Labour MP Dame Nia Griffith opposing the use of Stradey Park Hotel to house migrants, Mr Parry tweeted: “NATO Nia … obviously used this opportunity to punch down on asylum seekers. No surprise, but doesn’t stop it from being abhorrent.”

In 2019 the Welsh Government published a plan on how it intended to assist asylum seekers settle in Wales. While immigration policy is not devolved, the Welsh Government committed to do all it could to make asylum seekers and refugees welcome and declared the intention to turn Wales into a Nation of Sanctuary.

Burden

Asked whether the Furnace Action Committee was composed of racists and nimbys, its spokesman Robert Lloyd said: “Far from it. We have a broad range of people including professionals and local residents who represent the community as a whole. Apart from the shocking lack of consultation, we don’t think it’s the right place to house so many asylum seekers together. It would place an intolerable extra burden on local public services and could double the size of Furnace.

‘We aren’t against asylum seekers coming to Carmarthenshire and support the county council’s dispersal programme that has been very successful. We think the asylum seekers themselves would be better off.

“We are also concerned about the staff at Stradey Park Hotel, many of whose jobs will be at risk if this plan goes ahead.”

We asked the Welsh Government what impact the Stradey Park row would have on its Nation of Sanctuary policy. A spokesman responded: “We support the ambition of widening asylum dispersal in Wales but plans must be progressed with key local partners and with careful consideration of community cohesion and effective integration.

“We expect the Home Office to work with us and local government to seek a constructive way forward. It is critical the Home Office provides full clarity to ensure plans are viable.

“Our Nation of Sanctuary vision sets out how we want to play a full part in UK asylum and resettlement schemes and provide the best possible support to those who arrive.”

Tensions

The spokesman said the Welsh Government did not comment on the locations where asylum seekers were housed “as this can put them at risk and exacerbate community tensions”.

Llanelli Labour MS Lee Waters posted a message on his Facebook page which said: “The Conservative Government have confirmed that they plan to use the Stradey Park Hotel in Llanelli from July 3 for up to 207 people who are awaiting judgement for their legal claim of sanctuary.

“The Home Office has said the hotel will house family groups across 77 rooms.

“This decision has been made by a sole Tory Minister in Westminster – totally ignoring local concern and without the agreement of the Welsh Government, the local council, the health board or the police.

“This is happening because the UK Government have broken every promise they have made in repeated elections to bring immigration and asylum ‘under control’

“Instead they are managing a chaotic process which is neither fair on the community or the people seeking sanctuary.

“We have shown in the way we have welcomed people from war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine that we are a compassionate community.

“The awful way the UK Government is handling this is allowing extremist racist groups to seize on legitimate local concerns to whip up a hostile climate.

“I fully support the council in their efforts to explore the legal position to stop this bad decision, and the efforts of our MP, Nia Griffith, to oppose this in Parliament.

“It is important that we distinguish between our anger at the way the Tory Home Office is handling this, and our attitude to the people who may be coming here.

“I’ve seen some awful comments about a ‘threat’ they pose and some racially fuelled rhetoric about outsiders ‘descending’, ‘roaming the streets’ and praying on people. Extremist groups from outside the area are active in Llanelli trying to recruit people to their cause.

“Let us show that we are a kind and welcoming town, and reserve our anger for where it belongs – the UK Tory Government.”


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Tracy Lewis
8 months ago

Mr Waters rather than political point scoring, as a constituent in Llanelli I would ask you to stand up for the people of this town and especially the village of Furnace in your rhetoric. You are elected to represent the people voted you in not to point fingers of blame.

cablestreet
cablestreet
8 months ago

This has now gone beyond the Home office “considering” the Stradey Park as a contingency option. Stella Braverman continues in her mission of turning people against asylum seekers and refugees. Put them in a 4 star hotel, create uproar and division amongst the local and wider community. A browse of the comments on. the Walesonline website is testimony to this. This is an purely an exercise in provocation, even if this does not come to fruition the seeds of hatred and division against asylum seekers have once again been sown under the guise of government policy. Incidentally, if you visit… Read more »

Chris
Chris
8 months ago
Reply to  cablestreet

I’m no fan of the Tory government nor Suella Braverman, but it’s clear she’s damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.

You’re here with some ludicrous conspiracy theory that asylum seekers are purposely being put up in decent hotels to stoke division and hatred against them. Yet, if they were instead put up in 1-star B&Bs I’ve no doubt whatsoever you’d have a complaint about that as well.

cablestreet
cablestreet
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris

As far as I’m concerned Suella Braverman is just damned. The continued rhetoric from fellow rightwing politicians in government speaks for itself. As for assuming complaining about putting up 300 asylum seekers in a 1-star B&B, if you can find one with that can house that number in one place, good luck.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago

D-Day 6th of June 1944, the landing barges have been debarking freedom fighters on the beaches of France since dawn…

4,414 allied soldiers and sailors died 79 years ago today gaining a foothold in Europe to free a continent from the likes of the UK’s present leaders…

I’m exaggerating of course but one can see where this is going and where it hails from…

Last edited 8 months ago by Mab Meirion
Nia James
Nia James
8 months ago

If Lee Waters feels so strongly about London imposing its will on his constituents, and our nation in general, then why doesn’t he rally behind calls for our political independence. That way, we’d decide our own policies and direction of travel, and the people of Cymru can determine to whom, and in what numbers, we wish to give sanctuary.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago
Reply to  Nia James

The Gravy Train! The Fat Controller resides in Westminster, ask those who see Nuclear Power, Free Ports and any other lucrative, linked-in opportunity for personal gain, career, wealth and status…

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
8 months ago

Look, it’s easy to call those living in communities racists when they know their own areas and infrastructure, how not enough consultation or funding is forthcoming from this English authoritarian government in London. The real racist is Gone Secretary Suella Braverman not those airing their concerns. Also, what’s the point of Wales having Welsh Secretary David TC Davies when he’s complicit in undermining the Welsh Government, Senedd Cymru, but the very nation he allegedly represents in cabinet Time Wales answer to Lord Haw Haw was removed from office. Make it happen. Revenge is a dish best served cold. And It… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

An excellent idea, get rid of the sea anchor and we might just make some headway…

Llyn
Llyn
8 months ago

I don’t understand why these people who complain about local hotels being used to house asylum seekers didn’t all campaign to stop these same hotels being built in the first place. How is that a hotel full of tourists, etc is great for a community but a hotel with no more asylum seekers is an intolerable burden?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago

I think it would make a fine location for an episode of Poirot, nice place, sometimes you have to make the best of a bad job… With a little creative thought it could become hive of imaginative, constructive endeavours, help with both languages and an introduction into Welsh life. If as is claimed it will be family groups then the local priests, teachers and health workers could rally round. Someone from the Urdd could pitch in and befriend the kids.. Imagine what it must be like living in a Greek camp or heaven forbid a Rohingya camp. If the energy… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
8 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

“If as is claimed it will be family groups …” then all will be O.K, not great, for the families but a relatively safe place. However if the UK government pulls one of its usual stunts and dumps a load of young single men of working age in Llanelli that locality will become an UNsafe place for local women. Anything from 13-70 seems to be fair game. It’s taken a long time for white men to respect women of colour. Now we need to enforce a similar discipline to get incomers to treat native females with respect.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

The Modi Operandi of certain individuals from the PM down should top your list hd.

The abandonment of protecting women in general by the UK’s police forces should come directly below…

The Stats on violence, sexual or otherwise against women by locals in South Wales are atrocious, we walk on planks…

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