‘Too many ex-convicts sent to live in Clacton’ MP claims
- Credit: Su Anderson
A “conveyor belt” of taxpayer money is bringing ex-convicts to Clacton to live a life of alcohol, drug and welfare dependency, its MP has claimed.
Douglas Carswell accused Tendring District Council of failing to stop the “benefits migration” to the town, which he said was holding it back.
The UK Independence Party MP said it was the “number one issue the council needs to address”, adding: “If some of the officers are not willing to switch off the conveyor belt, maybe we need to get some new officers”.
Tendring council leader Neil Stock insisted councillors shared Mr Carswell’s concerns, and said that the council had been taking action - but that Westminster also had to play its part.
“Sending ex-prisoners from across the country to our town does nothing to help them to reform or help our town to prosper,” said Mr Stock.
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He said government funding had been secured to help prisoners find somewhere to live in their own home towns and the problems with organisations encouraging former prisoners to travel to Clacton were being addressed.
Mr Stock also said new planning rules to stop new bedsits being created had been brought in.
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“We have been pro-active but we often find that our hands are tied by Westminster legislation where benefit payments are concerned - and Government needs to be made aware of this,” he added.
But Mr Carswell insisted that the “conveyor belt” that is fuelling socioeconomic problems in Clacton remained, and it was reflected in knife crime statistics, begging and drug dealing.
He claimed it was “vested interests” which were allowing it to happen with “various publicly funded organisations” in Clacton receiving large amounts of public money, enjoying a profitable business but currently having no responsibility to the people brought into Clacton.
“I want the council to take the initiative and switch off the benefit migration conveyor belt and remove some of the organisations which are drawing in people on welfare dependency. If they don’t do that then I think we will see a large local campaign against the council on the issue.”
“What I am objecting to specifically is housing people who come out of prison and people who have drug and alcohol issues in bedsits.
“This is public subsidy being used to move people to Clacton.
“If you have people with drug, alcohol and benefit dependency issues coming out of prison, they have got to live somewhere.
“If they are all concentrated within a square half mile in a seaside town it is not good for them and it is not good for Clacton.
“I think that the council has a lead role to play.
“If the council wanted to make life very difficult for organisations that receive public money to pay for cheap substandard accommodation, they could do it.
“I have raised my concerns with senior officers numerous time and I feel I have been given the brush off and I’m not going to pull punches now.
“Either sort this out or we will put the spotlight on those failing to act.”