Hundreds attend asylum seeker evictions protest in Glasgow

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Campaigners against the eviction of failed asylum seekers in Glasgow have gathered in a protest of solidarity.

The decision by housing provider Serco to begin the removal of some of the asylum seekers from their accommodation has triggered the latest round of protests which saw around 400 people descend on the Home Offie Building on Brand Street in Cessnock.

Eviction Notices were burnt up in the protest. Picture; John Devlin

Eviction Notices were burnt up in the protest. Picture; John Devlin

Serco said 330 asylum seekers have overstayed after a final decision has been made on their applications to remain in the UK.

It has started to issue lock change, or eviction notices.

Around 400 people took the the streets in Govan to listen to speeches and chant “Refugees are welcome here” with eviction notices sent out from Serco being burnt as the final act of defiance in the protest.

A number had placards and banners to support the protest.

Members of the community also gathered, with many leaning out the window with cups of tea to listen to the speeches and take a look at the goings on.

READ MORE: Refugees begin ‘hunger strike’ in response to Serco eviction notices in Glasgow

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, described the evictions as “immoral, irresponsible and frankly dangerous”.

She said: “All our efforts this past week have been to avert a humanitarian disaster taking place on our streets as Serco slowly dumps 330 refugees and asylum seekers on to the streets of Glasgow with seven-day notices.

Protest and burning of copies of eviction letters outside the UK Home Office and SERCO's offices at 200 Brand Street. Picture; John Devlin

Protest and burning of copies of eviction letters outside the UK Home Office and SERCO's offices at 200 Brand Street. Picture; John Devlin

“These notices are being legally challenged in Scotland’s highest court, the court of session.”

She appealed to the charity’s 150 member organisations, many of which are Glasgow-based housing associations, to use their powers to stop the evictions.

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said these costs should be taken on by the Home Office, and has made repeated calls to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to step in and halt the evictions.

The council is also examining whether it can extend its general power of welfare to help those who face having their locks changed, many of whom are young, single men.

Meanwhile housing charity Shelter Scotland’s housing law service is to represent two of the asylum seekers facing eviction.

Director Graeme Brown said: “Our legal team will be presenting papers to Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday morning along with the legal services agency who act for a third individual to try and get interim orders that will prevent the lock changes threatened to our clients.

READ MORE: Brian Wilson: Serco right about one thing in asylum seeker eviction row

“Our clients are actively working with immigration lawyers to resolve their asylum claims. Interim orders temporarily stopping the lock changes will allow this work to continue with our clients having a home to live in.”

Serco chief executive Rupert Soames has said lock-change notices would be given to no more than 10 people a week for the next four weeks.

He said none of these would be families with children and all will be people who the Home Office considers to have exhausted their appeal process and no longer have the right to remain.