Calderdale Liberal Democrats have described comments made by Conservative Councillor Jacob Cook as 'vile demonisation'. In a post made to a local Facebook page Councillor Cook claimed asylum seekers pose a ‘potential security risk’. In emails Cook goes further, and says “Many local residents, including myself, have legitimate fears and concerns about the potential security risks.” Councillor Cook’s vile vilification of asylum seekers comes at a time the nation is watching the horrors unfolding at Kabul airport as people flee the Taliban.
Responding to Councillor Cook’s comments Councillors Sue Holdsworth who represents the same ward Greetland and Stainland said:
“I’ve visited local facilities that house asylum seekers. In my experience, they were courteous and polite. Despite having had some hideous experiences, they were working to try and get an education and make a new life here in the UK. As a compassionate nation, we should try and be welcoming to these people. I urge Councillor Cook to visit them in person rather than demonise them with his vile implications they pose a security risk to local residents.”
Javed Bashir Chair of Calderdale Liberal Democrats added:
"The UK has a proud history of giving asylum and resettling those persecuted and displaced refugees into our local communities. We have a moral duty and obligation not to turn our back on them in their hour of need. Whether they are interpreters from Afghanistan, pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong or those displaced from their homeland due to climate change, conflict or natural disasters – we need to be supporting and not vilifying them."
Calderdale Liberal Democrats are fully supportive of ‘Calderdale Valley of Sanctuary’. This is part of the City of Sanctuary movement, which is committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.
We have written to Calderdale Conservatives to question whether Cook’s views are representative of the party. We hope they will join us in condemning this vilification of people fleeing warzones, and in desperate need.