Calls to write to EU citizens rejected by South Northamptonshire councillors

The council was urged by the Lib Dem party to write to EU nationals living in the South Northants district. Picture by Jeff J Mitchell / Staff
The council was urged by the Lib Dem party to write to EU nationals living in the South Northants district. Picture by Jeff J Mitchell / Staff

Calls for South Northamptonshire Council to write to EU citizens living in the district with advice on applying for settled status have been rejected by councillors.

Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Lofts had submitted a motion calling on the council to write to to EU citizens who live in the area informing them of the potential consequences of not applying for the EU Settlement scheme.

In his motion, Councillor Lofts said he wanted the UK to avoid another ‘Windrush-like’ scandal.

He said: “Nationals from the other 27 EU member states are part of our shared communities alongside UK citizens. They are our husbands, wives, parents, friends and colleagues. They are an integral part of a vibrant and thriving South Northamptonshire.

“After three years of living in limbo, their homes and livelihoods are in danger of being threatened by the further uncertainty brought about by the prospect of a chaotic Brexit.”

As well as the letter to residents, he proposed that officers report on how the council can ‘mitigate adverse impacts’ on the rights of EU nationals.

But his motion was rejected when full council met at The Forum in Towcester on Wednesday evening (October 23).

Cabinet member Councillor Dermot Bambridge said: “The Brexit task and finish group met and discussed this very measure, but the electoral register is not to be used for this kind of thing, so the idea was dismissed. We decided the best approach was to include an article in the SNC Review magazine which goes to every household and business.”

And council leader Ian McCord added: “I can’t support this motion. There’s no call to action and it would be an unlawful use of data, and the GDPR measures ironically introduced by the EU is preventing this very thing from happening.”

Home Office figures for July show that a million of the estimated three million EU citizens in the UK have yet to apply for settled status, which will allow them to stay in the UK.