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“Send Them Back” Protests Erupt Over Asylum Seeker Hotel Conversion in Wigan

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In a small township in Wigan, a community gathering turned into a tense standoff as hundreds of people, including far-right activists, convened to voice their concerns over plans to convert a local hotel into an asylum-seeker hostel, as reported by Wigan Today on Sunday, September 3, 2023.

The catalyst for this demonstration was the revelation in August 2023 that Macdonald Hotels and Resorts had entered into an agreement with the Home Office and Serco, its asylum-seeker accommodation contractor, to repurpose Kilhey Court in Standish for housing asylum seekers.

This development raised eyebrows, as the government had been vocal about moving away from such costly endeavors.

The demonstration was organized by Maureen O’Bern, an independent councillor representing Ince and Scholes.

The event brought together individuals from various political backgrounds, all united in their opposition to the proposed asylum-seeker hostel. However, the motivations behind their opposition varied widely.

One of the primary concerns voiced by both the local council and Wigan’s Member of Parliament, Lisa Nandy, was the location of Kilhey Court.

A collage showing a large group of protesters gathered in Standish Market Place & a group of Migrants sitting in a makeshift boat.

Situated far from Standish center and lacking nearby amenities and adequate public transportation, the proposed hostel’s placement was deemed highly impractical.

Furthermore, objections were raised regarding the fact that Standish already housed asylum seekers in the Britannia Hotel. The local township had experienced a surge in house-building activities in recent years, stretching its existing resources and infrastructure to their limits.

Coun O’Bern had specifically requested that far-right and far-left representatives refrain from attending the noon demonstration. However, as the crowd gathered, it became evident that some attendees did not heed this call.

Skinheads and individuals chanting slogans like “send them back” were among the protesters, adding a layer of tension to the already volatile situation.

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The heavy police presence at the demonstration was a testament to the potential for conflict. Law enforcement officers were on hand to maintain order and ensure the safety of all attendees.

The demonstrations and counter-protests unfolded with emotions running high, but the police worked diligently to prevent any incidents from escalating into violence.

The debate surrounding asylum-seeker accommodation has long been a contentious issue, reflecting the broader discourse on immigration and refugee policy in the United Kingdom.

The government’s decision to repurpose Kilhey Court raised questions about its commitment to cost-effective solutions and the suitability of the chosen location.

While protests are a crucial part of democratic societies, the presence of far-right activists and incendiary slogans highlighted the divisive nature of this issue.

The need for respectful and constructive dialogue is clear, as communities grapple with complex questions surrounding immigration, asylum, and resource allocation.

In conclusion, the heavy police presence during the demonstration in Wigan underscored the challenges surrounding the proposed asylum-seeker hostel at Kilhey Court.

The clash of opinions, from concerns about the hostel’s location to the presence of far-right activists, illustrates the multifaceted nature of this issue. As discussions continue, finding common ground and sustainable solutions will be key to addressing the concerns of all stakeholders involved.

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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