Tuesday 16 December 2014

Bristol Councillors across all major political parties vote YES

Tonight, Bristol City Council voted YES to support the first aim of our campaign - to end Signing at Patchway. They will join us in putting pressure on the Home Office. 

Listen to Janet and Claire speak about the challenges for migrants to sign at Patchway.
Here is what the Councillors said in the debate.

Cllr Ron Stone (who presented the motion)
"It is hard enough for most of us to drive to patchway. even more difficult to work out a route that makes sense on public transport. Imagine yourself someone in this country, fear of life back home, maybe limited english, restricted financial support and legally required to sign at a police station in this city and your only option is to walk.

We claim to be a city of sanctuary. We have plaques that we have congratulated ourselves, of being supportive, of being humanitarian and understanding, yet this is a nonsense. What we should do to deserve this plaque, all of us in the council chamber tonight is to recognise the difficulty of that lady who spoke earlier, to give her 100% support. We need to lobby the Home Office and get better, more flexible, signing for people who are here trying to get legal application to become british citizens. I ask you seriously tonight to support this motion, across the political divide

Cllr Hopkins
"Last week i took opportunity to meet with the Police and Crime Commissioner to raise this matter, and we have their full support. There will be a police presence within the Lawrence hill area, it will be sufficient to allow the service to be provided from that area. We are pushing at an open door. It is also right that we get the Mayor to put energy into this matter and solve this very important problem.

Cllr Bolton
"There are times when it is difficult to understand how such crass decision are made. One can only hope the decision was an act of stupidity. If it is deliberate then it is quite a deliberate act of malice against some of the most vulnerable people in our city. Either way, it has no place in a caring city and the decision should be reversed.

Cllr Melais
"Cllr Ron clearly feels very passionate. Our group fully supports this. UK has long and honourable respectable reputation for assisting those who seek refuge on our shores. I have no intention of widening this debate in to the rights and wrong of national policy on the subject. All too often these arguments get reduced to different views over how asylum applications are handled and resolved.  As far as this resolution is concerned, as Ron explained, since 1st October of this year there is a requirement for many migrants to travel out to report at Patchway police station. I'm sure most members here will agree given our less than perfect transport system this is an unreasonable task and less than sensible arrangement. Bristol Refugee Rights website also advise us that the policy is to be reviewed in 2015. No doubt our Police and Crime Commissioner will be as interested as us in finding an alternative sensible location where the signing can take place. Of course no harm calling our Mayor to work with Sue Mountstevens and do what he can. We support the motion.

Mayor Ferguson
"I thank the petitioners and Ron for bringing this to our attention. I will absolutely work with Police and Crime Commissioner to lobby the Home Office to see if we can get a much more satisfactory arrangement.

Cllr Khan
"I know we have lots of issue around this asylum seeker. I have to mention the abuse that has been done to asylum seekers, such as introducing a van going round,and when they go to sign and they are detained for no reason, and now they have to travel to Patchway to sign. Underlining all of the good things that people do in this country, they are always on the spotlight for no reason. Again they are on the spotlight, lack of funds and physical illness are causing too much stress. I as well also ask the Mayor and Police Commissioner to do everything possible to bring a signing in the city so that these people can be left alone and abide the law and do their everyday business."

Cllr Jama
"As someone who was a former refugee and asylum seekers, and a big supporter of Bristol City of Sanctuary status, it makes me angry and galls me, that our city leaders, whether in the police or in the council, that in terms of this City of Sanctuary status, it is about celebrating this status. It is about being proactive, embedding in the actions we take, making sure that these poor vulnerable people who live in everyone of our wards, are safeguarded and not further hurt by some indirect action the border agency has taken.
I raised this issue with the Police Crime Commissioner over 3 months ago and with Senior Offices within the Council and I am really embarrassed and angry that it has come to to. We knew this was going to happen. We knew the signing was going to change from Trinity Road police station and it was going to now happen at Patchway. The asylum seeker and refugee community, with Labour party raised this issue. Why has the council and the police, with all its mights and personnel and resources not managed to be proactive about this and stop the signing changing from one location to another?

We have heard that this feels like a punishment to this community, some of these people have been persecuted in their country. They are hear looking for a safe haven. I am really disappointed in the council and in the police and I hope George Ferguson the Mayor and the Council will work with us to ensure this catastrophe is bought a very quick end and also that the learning from this, that  when decisions are made that we are know are going to impact negatively on a poor community, that we stop them before it actually happens."

Cllr Hance,
"All kinds of ghastly indignities inflicted to asylum seekers across the country. I am quite proud that in this city we have caught the, we have cross party agreement, we noticed and we are going to try and do something about it. That is quite unusual."

Everyone except the UKIP councillor voted in favour. He did not speak against it. 

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