brighton pavillion surrounded by a fence and razor wire

Brighton & Hove and Cambridge City Councils have just joined Manchester in passing These Walls Must Fall motions to condemn indefinite immigration detention and committing to action to build the movement to end the practice.

In a sign of growing movement against detention, both motions were passed unanimously. Following discussions with Cambridge’s city of sanctuary group, Green party councillor Oscar Gillespie proposed the Cambridge City Council motion, which called on local MPs to act and for other councils to show their support on the issues.

Councillor Gillespie told us that the support the motion received in the council will give local campaigners “more enthusiasm to keep putting pressure on the politicians and speaking from their conscience.”

In Brighton & Hove, the motion was co-sponsored by the local Labour, Conservative and Green groups. Their motion highlighted the harm caused by detention, both to society and to individuals, and called for major change, noting that this injustice “cannot be addressed by improvements to conditions, or minor reforms to the way the system is operated.”

Labour Councillor Emma Daniel, who proposed the Brighton motion, called detention “inhumane and an affront to a democratic society”. She told us that the cross-party support sent “a strong message to the Home Secretary that the practice of indefinite detention must stop immediately.”

“I would urge other councils to use their democratic power to send a message to Government. Too often Westminster fails to listen to local government representatives but by speaking together, we can ensure our voice is heard.” – Cllr Emma Daniel

The motion was raised to councillors by Siriol Hugh-Jones‏, an activist with city of sanctuary. She said the motion was a statement against the policy of immigration detention as well as the government’s ‘hostile environment’.

Richard Williams, the chair of the local sanctuary group, welcomed the passing of the motion:

“All credit to our Council for recognising that, as a City of Sanctuary, we cannot have fellow residents living in fear of the dawn knock on the door and being locked up with no time limit. We hope that other cities of sanctuary will join us in rejecting indefinite detention: it’s unjust, inhumane and ineffective.”

Council motions like these show that “detention is on shaky ground” and are a useful tool for mobilising others (such as MPs) to take action.

Here are ten steps you can take to getting a council motion passed in your area.

The movement against detention is growing. The appalling treatment of the Windrush generation, the plight of the women in Yarl’s Wood, the injustice faced those affected by the hostile environment show that another future is both necessary and possible.