Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glasgow protest at plans for mass deportation of asylum seekers from Glasgow, UKBA and Labour controlled Glasgow City Council argue over money

Dear All

The UK Border Agency is located at Festival Court, 200 Brand Street, Govan, Glasgow G51 1DH.

As immigration is reserved to Westminster; they are out with the control of the Scottish Government.

The UK Border Agency have decided that they don’t recognise the authority of Holyrood as an institution by telling MSPs, they won’t deal with them, this shows they feel they are above Scottish scrutiny.

The Glasgow Labour Council of shame entered into a contract with the UKBA to house asylum seekers in the city; in return for providing accommodation they got cash.

Now due to a dispute over money the UKBA has pulled the plug on that contract over costs.

This means that several hundred asylum seekers and their families face being moved out of the city. Currently around 1000 of Glasgow’s 1300 asylum seekers are covered by the contract with the council and will be moved out of flats in the city to various as-yet unknown destinations.

Around 600 families in Glasgow have been sent letters in the past week informing them they could be moved by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) as a result of its termination of its 10-year contract.

Given that Glasgow is a key centre for UKBA operations, it makes sense to keep these people in a central location.

And on the other side, the families involved have to some extent integrated into the local communities which they have been placed.

Infrastructure has been put in place by Glasgow Council in Schools and Medical practices to cope which has taken time to develop.

The mass removal has lead to protest in the city with protestors gathering outside the City Chambers in George Square to demonstrate against the move.

Another disturbing aspect is the letter sent by UKBA telling people they may only get 3 – 5 days notice before they are removed and that they are only allowed two suitcases.

What about their other personal possessions?

Well the UKBA don’t care apparently.

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, said:

“For the UKBA to press ahead with mass removal is utterly shameful. The irony is that even if the families are moved out, the council services will still be needed by these families, greater strain will be placed on our social services, homelessness services and the health service. So with or without a contract, the council will be forced to cough up.”
Phil Taylor, of the UK Border Agency, said:

“We are very hopeful that the majority of the asylum seekers affected by this change of contract will remain in their current accommodation. If a move to new accommodation is required, we will aim to give at least 14 days’ notice, where possible, and the costs of the move will fall to the new accommodation provider.”

This statement is at odds with what the letter from his Agency said:

“When-ever possible you will be given 3-5 days notice of the move to give you time to get ready.”

“At the moment we cannot give you an exact date for any potential move. However, it will be sometime during the coming weeks.”

“You will be allowed to take two pieces of luggage per person. In addition, children’s toys, baby care items, medical equipment, buggies and disability aids are also allowed.”

The PR image portrayed by Phil Taylor doesn’t match the reality of what is going on behind the scenes.

Unfortunately given the nature of politics and the political settlement at Holyrood there is little that protestors and Scottish politicians can do.

Westminster pays the piper.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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