Another month, and another set of Home Office statistics which confirm that Rochdale is doing more than its fair share when it comes to caring for the UK’s asylum seekers.
The latest round of figures show that, while Tory shires in the South of England have just a handful of asylum seekers between them, one in every 204 people in Rochdale is now a refugee.
In its dispersal policy, we see the utter disinterest that the Conservative Government has for the people on Rochdale. The town is expected to do more and more with less and less.
On one hand we are asked to host more asylum seekers than any other town of equivalent size, without being given so much as a penny to support these hundreds of vulnerable people.
On the other, we are being subjected to unprecedented funding cuts to our council service, health care and schooling with the threat of more to come.
Whatever your stance on immigration, the numbers here speak for themselves. The current system is not sustainable.
I know Rochdale to be a peaceful and welcoming town. But even the most tolerant communities have their breaking points.
With resources in many towns like ours more stretched than ever, it is my genuine concern that building tension could lead to a major incident of one kind or another.
As we have seen in the past, it is the community, and not the shortsighted Government, that will shoulder the blame and the damage to its reputation.
I make no apologies for repeating myself on this issue. I have asked questions in Parliament on a number of occasions and I will continue to do so until a satisfactory solution is found.
Just 95 of the country’s 326 local authority areas take responsibility for housing refugees. If the number was spread evenly then each area would be asked to take in a more manageable 100.
This would release some of the pressure on our local services and allow vulnerable asylum seekers to get a better level of support.
It is time that the Government realised it cannot continue to expect Rochdale to carry an unfair burden while other parts of the country do nothing.