DEMONSTRATIONS against the Government’s proposed Nationality and Borders Bill took place in Skipton and Settle.

More than 30 turned out in Skipton last week, including representatives of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties, while more than 20 attended the Settle event.

Phil McCarthy, of co-ordinators, the Craven Refugee Support Network, said there had been plenty of support from hundreds of members in local groups.

“Many people turned out even though the weather was not so good, and it was very wet in Settle. Dozens signed our petition against the bill and many wanted to talk to us to understand it better or to express their disgust.

“Craven has always been a generous open hearted place and has welcomed refugees since the government scheme started in 2015 and local citizens are very involved in supporting them. From the evidence we have seen from all the groups, current government policy does not reflect how people in Skipton feel.

“We welcome refugees”.

The bill proposes a two tier asylum system where those arriving without prior authorisation will be deemed to be illegal immigrants and criminalised while those with prior authorisation will be supported and given leave to remain.

Attending the event in Skipton were Brian McDaid, for Labour; Andrew Murday, Liberal Democrats, and Andy Brown, Green, who is also a member of Craven District Council.

Cllr Brown said: “It was good to see such support for refugees across the political spectrum and to show that we can work together to seek a more humane response. “Craven Council, which has a Conservative majority, has recently voted unanimously to welcome more refugees in Skipton and there is considerable support for this across all parties. I don’t think the Nationality and Borders bill represents the views of people or politicians in Craven and many people told us that at the demonstration.”

The Craven Refugee Support Network is made up of refugee support groups in and around Settle, Skipton and Bentham and in Upper Wharfedale and Malhamdale.

Jane Way, from the Upper Wharfedale group, which has almost 100 members, said:

“We have a lot of support for refugees in Upper Wharfedale and local people are very much involved in welcoming refugees, providing household goods and clothing and fundraising.

“We understand how difficult it is for refugees to uproot themselves from their homes and family and make the perilous journey to the UK. All of those we have had contact with over the years have been keen to contribute to UK society and are valued citizens. To think that they may be criminalised for trying to protect their families is unthinkable and we are opposed to the Nationality and Borders bill. The UK is a generous and welcoming place and this bill does not represent who we are”.

To find out more about the network,