As most people are now aware, the Ashley Hotel is being converted to house over 100 single male asylum seekers in just a few weeks’ time. Some residents are very welcoming whereas many others are worried about just what 100 young men will get up to all day and others are worried about the safety of young females given that the attitude to women in the countries that the men might come from are less liberal than ours. Others are worried that given that Albanians are the largest group of foreign prisoners in UK jails that there might also be crime worries. Despite the rumours, nobody actually knows what nationality the asylum seekers will be but as those from Albania now seem to form the majority of those arriving in small boats, there’s a good chance that they will be from there.
Just a couple of days ago, both the MEN and the Mail ran articles on the issue and the overwhelming number of comments and votes believed what’s good for Rochdale should be good enough for Hale.
And who can blame them?
Why do we think it’s OK to house asylum seekers elsewhere but not in our own backyard especially when we in Hale elected a councillor in the May elections whose party believes that we should be open to admitting even more? And the Green’s Jane Leicester didn’t just scrape through either. She got an overwhelming 50% of the vote.
Of course, there are many residents of Hale who are completely opposed to the numbers arriving in small boats and judging by the tone of the room at last week’s residents’ meeting, they seem to be in the majority.
At that meeting there was a smaller group who thought that asylum seekers should be welcomed and these were led by Councillor Leicester. However, Jane doesn’t actually live in the area. The Green Party’s policy on asylum seekers can be found in the link below, but you can safely conclude that it’s a little more liberal that our current system and fits in with their general policy on migration in general where they state that richer regions and communities do not have the right to use migration controls to protect their privileges from others in the long term. You can interpret that as you wish but for me that seems like support for open borders with no immigration controls whatsoever.
At the meeting, Jane was very reluctant to state her position on whether we should accommodate asylum seekers in Hale, saying that she didn’t think we could do anything about it. However, once pressed by the attendees, she said that she did support the situation and also added that we should have safe routes overseas for people to apply for asylum. I pressed Jane on this after the meeting and asked her if an asylum seeker had applied via a safe route and been rejected (as many of the young men currently arriving in small boats would undoubtedly be) why would they not then try the small boat route? Jane didn’t have an answer to this.
Many people believe that we should have safe routes anyway. Others think that these, particularly if situated in Northern France, would be an even greater magnet for boat arrivals. Other are worried that given what they perceive as a very liberal viewpoint on asylum claims by the Home Office, that this would massively increase numbers.
On that point, it’s interesting that both Sweden and Germany will not allow any asylum claims from Albanian nationals because they believe that they are already in a safe European country. The UK is very liberal on Albanian claims particularly as most are now made under Theresa May’s people trafficking laws. According to Home Office figures, about 11,000 Albanians arrived here in the 5 months from May to September 2022 and it’s maybe understandable that some are sceptical about the strength of their trafficking claims.
At the meeting, Graham Brady was very forthright about his views on asylum seekers and immigration in general however, as many pointed out, his party have been in power for 12 years and both legal immigration and asylum claims have gone through the roof in that time. Indeed, some people think that the Tories’ focus on preventing Channel crossings is at best half-hearted and at worse, a smokescreen to cover the fact that they’ve issued around a million legal visas for people to join us in the past 12 months.
In Hale, the only way to stop or at least slow down the use of the Ashley Hotel seems to be putting complaints into Trafford’s planning department regarding the fact that the hotel will be used as a hostel and that requires change of use planning consent which has neither been applied for nor granted. Those of you that wish to do this can do so online in about 3 minutes.
The Hotel Address is:
The Britannia Ashley hotel
Tensions will undoubtably start to run high over this issue but just because you have a different view to one of your fellow residents doesn’t mean that you should be rude in the comments below and it would be good to see a balanced debate on the matter.