The organizers of a planned peaceful protest against a Cornish hotel being continually used to house asylum seekers have been called “racist and bigoted” by local politicians.
Both Conservative and Labour politicians in Cornwall have condemned the planned protest outside the Beresford Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall, due to take place on Feb. 25.
The leader of the Conservative group in Cornwall Council, Cllr. Linda Taylor, said she is committed to calling out protests against hotels housing asylums seekers “for what they are, a racist and bigoted attack on a minority group of people.”
The local Labour group’s secretary, Stephen Hick, said: “We condemn utterly attacks against migrants in the Newquay area and anywhere they occur, we call upon our members and everyone to oppose the scapegoating of the innocent and vulnerable.”
“No criticism allowed,” conservative broadcaster Nigel Farage tweeted in response to the attacks by local politicians on the protesters.
A Facebook page for the event makes it clear the demonstration has been organized by concerned local residents and is not affiliated with any political party or right-wing group.
The organizer explains that residents take issue with the fact the hotel appears to continue to be exclusively used by asylum seekers despite the local Conservative MP, Steve Double, seeking assurances from the Home Office back in November that the hotel would not be used in this capacity “beyond the end of winter so as to not impact on our important tourist season.”
Tourism is the lifeblood of Cornwall’s local economy, and many fear the continued presence of asylum seekers in the area will not only keep local accommodation booked up but deter much-needed tourists from visiting.
Organizers also cite community safety as an issue following a number of incidents concerning residents of the hotel intimidating and harassing young women in the area. “We do not know their criminal backgrounds. Many of them would have arrived with zero documentation and could literally pretend to be anyone. They have the freedom to roam the streets and also to go missing and be unaccounted for.”
Several reports of schoolgirls being harassed in rural English county by groups of foreign men
Complaints for separate incidents have been made in two of Cornwall’s main towns
Finally, protesters object to the hotel’s occupants receiving “free accommodation, free food, free money, prioritized healthcare and free gym memberships” while many local residents struggle with the cost-of-living crisis.
One former local councilor, Angie Rayner, who is now affiliated with the right-wing Reform UK party, posted a copy of a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request she obtained from Devon and Cornwall Police. Ms. Rayner asked the authorities how many separate incidents had been logged with the police regarding the hotel’s occupants since the beginning of November last year. The constabulary confirmed police officers had attended 21 separate incidents at the hotel between Nov. 1 last year and Jan. 23.
When asked how many arrests had been made, Ms. Rayner was informed that while no arrests had been made between Nov. 1 and Nov. 14, crime data was not available for the remaining period.
The protest follows a similar demonstration held in Knowsley, Merseyside, on Friday, which saw local residents protest against a migrant hotel in the area. The protest was initiated by footage of one of the hotel’s occupants attempting to proposition a schoolgirl. When the girl tells him she is 15, he replies “good” and asks for her phone number.
Other residents told media outlets over the weekend that this was not the first time this had happened, saying that the local school had resorted to putting netting up on its gates because the hotel’s residents would frequently linger outside the school and watch students.
UK: 15 arrested after violent protests outside migrant hotel, instigated by adult asylum seeker propositioning schoolgirl
Some were quick to criticize the mainstream media’s demonization of protesters as “far right”
Scenes turned violent in Knowsley as protesters clashed with riot police. A total of 15 arrests were made, and three injuries were reported. The pro-refugee charity Care 4 Calais claimed the protesters were members of the far-right, a claim strongly refuted by a number of those in attendance who insisted they were there out of fear for their children’s safety.
A counter-protest has also been organized against the demonstration scheduled in Cornwall, with pro-refugee groups telling their supporters: “We will not tolerate fascism on our streets.”