Scots Tory MP moans as asylum seekers housed in his constituency
A SCOTTISH Tory MP has hit out at asylum seekers being sent to his constituency – despite the UK Government routinely accusing Scotland of not playing its part in taking in migrants.
Exports minister Andrew Bowie said it was inappropriate to send asylum seekers to Westhill in his constituency of West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine.
He said there was a “sincere lack of facilities for the current residents of Westhill, let alone an influx of 173 more”.
Bowie’s complaints come despite repeated claims from Home Secretary Suella Braverman that Scotland does not pull its weight when it comes to housing arrivals.
These claims have been contested and in 2019 researchers at Oxford University found Glasgow housed more asylum seekers than anywhere else in the UK.
He said he had met with the immigration minister and Home Office officials to discuss the decision, which was made by Aberdeenshire council.
'Only one pub'
Noting the town’s lack of facilities, he pointed to the “stress” healthcare facilities in Westhill were under, adding: “there are no banking facilities in Westhill, only one pub, and only one main shopping area”.
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Local SNP councillor Fatima Joji hit out at the comments on social media, calling Bowie’s language “inflammatory”.
She said: “I’m really disappointed with Andrew Bowie MPs response to Westhill receiving asylum seekers which in my opinion, exaggerates the impact on our community, contains inaccuracies and makes use of language I consider inflammatory.”
Joji added: “Westhill is a caring community.”
In a statement posted to his website, Bowie said: “My concerns specifically relate to facility provision for residents. Specifically, GP and pharmacy provision remain a real and reoccurring issue in Westhill.
“My understanding is that this demographic of asylum seekers has about 5% presentation at the GP.
“That is a monumental overnight increase to a surgery that is already under stress. I am concerned that this increase in patient numbers will have a negative impact on waiting times for the population of Westhill.
“Furthermore, recently there have been significant delays at the two Westhill pharmacies. Residents of Westhill have been waiting for significantly extended periods to receive basic medicine.
“There is no doubt that an increase in patient numbers of this magnitude will exacerbate the already long waiting times.
“Furthermore, there are no banking facilities in Westhill, only one pub, and only one main shopping area.
“There is a swimming pool and a privately managed sports centre. There is a sincere lack of facilities for the current residents of Westhill, let alone an influx of 173 more. I am very concerned that there will be nothing within walking distance for these individuals to do.”
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A Home Office spokesperson said: “The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable - we remain committed to making every effort to reduce hotel use and limit the burden on the taxpayer and the local communities.
“We continue to engage with local authorities as early as possible whenever sites are used for asylum accommodation and work to ensure arrangements are safe for hotel residents and local people.”