Unpublished Letter to North Somerset Times:

Dear Editor,
I write in response to the discussion about the lack of housing and the extent to which immigration has contributed to a shortage. Of course there is a housing shortage, but this is because of the failure of this Tory government and the previous one to build sufficient houses. The Tories have forced austerity on local authorities and families, something North Somerset Council has complained about, and social housing starts have been far too low; that is the problem. To blame the shortage on immigrants when we have so few in our area is the worst kind of xenophobia.
Of course, the need for more houses is based on the fact that people are living longer and that more people move into the area than leave it. That’s British people moving into the area.
North Somerset has 3,500 people on its housing waiting list, but only a small number of immigrants from the EU and other countries, most of whom live in the private rented sector. Of those: 96.7% speak English as their first language and only 0.1% don’t speak English; the three largest groups are Polish, German and Irish; 94% of people in North Somerset were born in the UK; when asked, British people think that the UK Muslim population is 24%, when, in fact, it is 5% nationally and 1% in the south west; we are more likely to be treated in hospital by a migrant than we are to meet one in the waiting room; and 29 million tourists came to the UK last year, many to our region, and this number will surely decrease if we become known for not wanting foreigners here?
These are just a few of the facts gleaned from the latest census, but you can find more facts, by visiting www.tuc.org.uk/mswmigrantsmyths
Of course, if Liam Fox MP has his way, we will come out of the EU. He has failed to explain what will happen in the next couple of years if we do. I think leaving the EU would be a decision  which would cause economic problems for most of us and the possible breakup of the UK.
Yours sincerely,
Paul Dunn

Unpublished Letter to the Editor of the North Somerset Times:

Dear Editor

The article in last week’s North Somerset Times and Liam Fox’s comments about large swathes of the countryside being lost ‘possibly forever’ relates debates and decisions about housing and green spaces in North Somerset to immigration.  North Somerset Council’s decisions about protecting green spaces is not related to immigration for three reasons:

First, according to a 2nd February North Somerset Council report, Nigel Ashton has committed to housing 3 Syrian families/households across all the towns and villages in the whole of North Somerset. using Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme funding from central government. (Source, PDF)

Second, as a result of housing the three families/households this leaves North Somerset Council less likely to assist with those seeking asylum from war in the UK as the report states “Any decision to accommodate Syrian Refugees is likely to reduce North Somerset’s ability to take part in asylum seeker dispersal, given the pressures on the local housing market and services.”

Third, 190,809 of the 202,566 residents of North Somerset in 2011 census were born in the UK.  In 2013/4 the Office of National Statistics indicates that the balance of incoming long term international migration (offset against outgoing) was 285 people.  This volume is not responsible for the ‘protect our green spaces’ campaigns we see on our streets and social media. (Source)

It is very important to use facts to remain credible about matters of such importance.

 Angela Everitt

North Somerset Constituency Labour Party