Campaigners angry at council members for shunning Windrush forum in Preston

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All 48 Preston councillors have been slammed for failing to show up at a Question Time forum about the problems still facing Windrush survivors and their descendants in the city.

The city's MP Sir Mark Hendrick travelled up from Westminster to attend the event at the Jalgos Sports and Social Club.

But even though every member of the city council was invited to the meeting, not a single one took time out to make an appearance.

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"It's shocking, isn't it?" said Glenda Andrew, co-founder of the Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants Group. "There are 48 of them and not one could find time to support the event.

Sir Mark Hendrick, Glenda Andrew (centre) and the rest of the Question Time panel.Sir Mark Hendrick, Glenda Andrew (centre) and the rest of the Question Time panel.
Sir Mark Hendrick, Glenda Andrew (centre) and the rest of the Question Time panel.

"We invited the entire council. We've been telling them about it since January. If our MP can make it from London, you'd think at least one councillor could have made the effort from just around the corner at the Town Hall."

Read More
Windrush: Question Time event to get Lancashire communities the help they need

The forum attracted a sizeable audience from the Caribbean community to listen to Sir Mark and two Home Office officials about the continuing Windrush scandal.

"Sir Mark gave a really emotional speech which brought him to tears," said Glenda. "He has been supporting us every step of the way since the group was founded.

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Some of the audience who attended the Question Time event.Some of the audience who attended the Question Time event.
Some of the audience who attended the Question Time event.

"But we didn't have a council member present to answer questions on what the authority is doing to help the Windrush community in this city.

"Despite all the publicity about Windrush since we set up this group in 2019 a lot of people still don't understand what it is and why it is still happening. There are still a lot of questions about it, who can claim compensation and what should our local council be doing to to help those people affected in our city?

"It shouldn't be just left to grassroots organisations like us to support these people. Why is the council not doing anything? We aren't after financial support, we just want support from our elected representatives.

"Help for the Windrush generation is moving forward in other cities, but not in Preston or across Lancashire. We feel like we are on our own.

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"The Question Time was a great event and we aren't stopping there. We’re planning another one on Friday March 24 - and this time it will be held in the Town Hall, so there really is no excuse why councillors can't come along and support it for the sake of the people of Preston.

"Also it is Windrush 75 this year. What is Preston doing to mark that? The whole country is doing something, so what about Preston?"

Sir Mark Hendrick told the Post: “The Windrush scandal was a national scandal and the compensation scheme is administered by the Home Office. That is why I was there, along with two Home Office officials.

"It is not a City Council matter and Friday evening isn’t the best time to have it. It was very well-attended with five speakers and I carried the support of the Labour councillors who discussed the event with me the day after.”

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Preston Council leader Coun Matthew Brown said: ‘’Members at Preston City Council were aware of the Windrush Question Time event, which had been highlighted within the council. Cllr Khan, Cabinet Member for Communities and Social Justice, did forward her apologies to group organisers.

“We were under the impression that this event had more of a national focus and was more relevant for Windrush compensation claimants who were seeking advice from their MP and Home Office. Preston City Councillors would not have been able to support their claims or answer their queries. However, we will strongly encourage our members to attend any future events.

“Preston City Council has provided Windrush CIC with a facility, are involved with this summer’s large Windrush 75 event and last year raised the Windrush flag at the Town Hall. We also actively promote and support the annual Black History Month. We are, and continue to be, committed to supporting members of local Windrush groups and our wider black community.”