I'm very bitter about it: Leeds West Indian Carnival founder's anger at treatment of Windrush generation

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The founder of the Leeds West Indian Carnival says he is "very bitter" about the problems faced by long-term British residents from the Windrush generation over their immigration status.

Arthur France spoke amid growing anger about individuals facing the threat of deportation and being denied access to healthcare due to UK paperwork issues and anomalies affecting some immigrants who arrived between the late 1940s and early 1970s.

The 80-year-old, who came from the Caribbean island of Nevis in 1957 to live with his sister in Leeds, said he would not be affected by the problems experienced by those who do not have paperwork to prove they are in the UK legally.

But he said: "It is extremely unfair. We are having the Commonwealth Games in Australia with the warmth and togetherness of the Commonwealth, and people understand these children came here with their parents.

"I suppose some might gave been complacent and didn't realise they would have to get paperwork, they thought everything would be all right. The Government needs to take this into consideration.

"It won't affect me, but I am not thinking of myself. We have families that feel very bitter about it. One friend came to me and said he has a cousin who is facing the same problem. I can't be all right when my brother is suffering. We are all in the same boat.

"I was sad when I saw the man who was on the television last week and was in ill-health.

"Whoever came up with this decision I don't think they have an ounce of humanity in them. This kind of thing could make any fair-minded person very angry and against the establishment. I am very bitter about it."

It emerged today that Prime Minister Theresa May is to meet counterparts from Caribbean states this week to discuss the problems.

Mrs May's official spokesman said the PM was clear that nobody with a right to be in the UK would be made to leave.

Reports suggested that Mrs May had rejected a request from 12 Caribbean leaders to discuss the issue.

But Number 10 said that the PM only became aware of the request on Monday morning and hoped to meet as many of them as possible for a meeting this week, while they are in London for the Commonwealth summit.

Mrs May's official spokesman said: "She deeply values the contribution made by these and all Commonwealth citizens who have made a life in the UK, and is making sure the Home Office is offering the correct solution for individual situations.

"She is aware that many people are unlikely to have documents that are over 40 years old and she is clear that no-one with the right to be here will be made to leave."

The announcement came after a cross-party group of 140 MPs wrote to Mrs May calling for an "immediate and effective" response to problems faced by members of the Windrush generation.

The letter to the PM was co-ordinated by David Lammy, chairman of the Race and Community All Party Parliamentary Group, and has the backing of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative MPs such as Sarah Wollaston.

The letter to Mrs May calls for action over the immigration anomalies, stating: "All too often these routine bureaucratic errors bring about the separation of families and irreparable damage to lives in addition to undue stress, anxiety and suffering.

"The impact has been felt in the cases of individuals losing the right to work, to rent property, to receive pensions, to access their bank accounts or even to access vital healthcare - a particularly cruel twist of fate as so many of those affected have spent their lives in the service of our National Health Service."

Mr Lammy said: "What is going on is grotesque, immoral and inhumane. It is a stain on our nation's conscience and the Prime Minister must act urgently to right this historic wrong.

"After World War II we invited the Windrush generation over as citizens to help rebuild our country, and now their children are being treated like criminals.

"The Government is essentially stripping people of the rights that our Government itself granted decades ago.

"The Government must immediately guarantee that anyone who comes forward to clarify their status should not face deportation or detention, because as things stand today there are thousands of people who are too worried about their future to come forward."

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