Portsmouth City Council’s Refugee Shame

Promoter and activist Steve Pitt thinks we all should be concerned about the Council’s decision to give refugees the cold shoulder.

Yesterday evening Portsmouth City Councillors, led by the Tory group, voted to ask the government to remove the city from its status as a cluster area for asylum seekers. Several delegations, including from the British Red Cross, have offered evidence proving why this is a terrible decision:

1. Portsmouth takes fewer asylum seekers now than it did in 2007, as a percentage of those dispersed in the southeast of England.
2. On average, we have taken just six unaccompanied asylum seeker kids per year over the last 15 years.
3. As of today, not a single unaccompanied asylum seeker child is in primary or secondary education in the city.
4. The number of private houses used for asylum seekers in the city has not increased for ‘many years’.
5. Most of the money needed to look after asylum seekers comes from central government.
6. We have 124 asylum seekers in the City at the moment, 10% of the number in Liverpool, a city only twice our size.

These simple truths invalidate Tory arguments about pressure on school places, housing shortages and so on. Indeed, the Tory-led Council spent more on the car parking for the Americas Cup than it would cost to continue to support asylum seekers under the existing system for the whole of this year.

I generally try not to be tribal but today I am truly ashamed of every single one of the Councillors who supported this vile motion. It gave kudos to the fascist, mask-wearing protestors outside, who flew a banner from the balcony of the Council building reading ‘No Refugees Here’.

Those who voted in favour of the motion:
Donna Jones
Luke Stubbs (proposer)
Steve Wemyss (seconded)
Simon Bosher
Jennie Brent
Ryan Brent
Scott Harris
Steve Hastings
Hannah Hockaday
Ian Lyon
Lee Mason
Gemma New
Robert New
Sandra Stockdale
Linda Symes
David Tompkins
Neil Young

Alicia Denny
Colin Galloway
Stuart Potter

Paul Godier
Remember their names.

Note from the Editors

A statement from the Red Cross appealing to Portsmouth City Council not to withdraw support to asylum seekers.

A livestream of the Full Council meeting. The debate on asylum seekers runs from 4 hours 20 minutes in.

Photography by Sarah Cheverton.