Like many people here in Knowsley, we were shocked and very concerned to see the events that unfolded outside The Suites Hotel on Friday 10 February. Since this troubling incident the Council has been working closely with colleagues from Merseyside Police and other agencies to understand more about what happened and importantly to discuss the next steps for us and for our communities.
As people will be aware, social media is awash with speculation and opinion as to why these events occurred. Amongst people expressing genuine concern about the situation, there are also people – many who don’t live in Knowsley – expressing views which are at best misleading and at worst incredibly damaging. We urge our community to view this information with extreme caution and refrain from forming judgements without full awareness of the facts.
We’re also aware of some footage of an incident which was widely shared in social media in the days before the protest. The circumstances of that incident had been followed up and investigated by Merseyside Police before last Fridays’ protest. Some people have said that there were several incidents and that they weren’t being investigated, none of which is actually true.
The safety and wellbeing of all of our residents is always a top priority for the Council and other partner agencies in Knowsley and any suggestion to the contrary is totally false.
If anyone in our community has concerns about their safety or has information about any potentially criminal activity, we urge you to follow the correct processes and contact Merseyside Police or our own Safer Communities Team who are best equipped to investigate and will support you.
We’ve seen the current Government stirring up anti-immigration rhetoric for some time and sadly incidents like this are the inevitable consequence. The Government has taken no responsibility for their policies which sees asylum seekers being placed into communities, like ours, without proper consideration of the support needed and with no end in sight when it comes to determining their futures.
Knowsley is a welcoming and inclusive place, and there is simply no justification for what happened on Friday. We recognise that people will often have concerns or opinions but nothing excuses attending a peaceful protest with weapons like hammers and fireworks. The violence and aggression which was encountered last Friday evening is completely unacceptable.
We stand together to condemn the actions of all of those involved in putting the lives and safety of innocent people at risk as well as causing unnecessary criminal damage. We cannot accept this in our Borough.
Merseyside Police have made arrests and will continue to investigate this matter fully. We will support them wholeheartedly in that regard – as we always do, with the safety and wellbeing of all our residents our absolute priority at all times.
Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council and Cllr Kai Taylor, Leader of the Opposition on Knowsley Council