Some EU citizens in Norwich have to take 214-mile round trip to apply to stay in UK, councillor claims

PUBLISHED: 17:20 05 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:25 05 February 2019

James Wright. Pic: Stuart McPherson.

James Wright. Pic: Stuart McPherson.

Stuart MccPherson

EU citizens in Norfolk applying to stay in the UK after Brexit face a 214-mile round trip to register, it has been claimed.

Norfolk Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative government for their “hapless treatment” of EU citizens after the Home Office released guidance on the new EU Settlement Scheme.

The Home Office has confirmed that for the duration of the trial period, until 30 March, EU citizens applying to stay in the UK must either use an Android phone or travel to one of 13 document scanning centres instead.

For Norwich, the closest document scanning centre is Hatfield and according to analysis by the Liberal Democrats, EU citizens travelling from Norwich would face costs of £64.70 on the train for a five-hour round trip. The drive would be a 214-mile round trip costing around £53.50 in fuel.

But the Home Office said the current phase was just the testing stage, where the document checking app could only be used on Android. A spokesman said after March 30 documents could be posted, and they were working with Apple to enable to app to work on iPhones.

Liberal Democrat spokesman for Norwich and city councillor for Eaton ward, James Wright, said: “Too many people in Norwich are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in the health service, our schools and the tourism sector. They want to register as soon as possible, but Theresa May’s hapless treatment of EU citizens could result in a new Windrush scandal.

“For anyone who doesn’t have an Android phone, this botched scheme means they will have to travel. For people in Norwich, that means facing a 214-mile round trip, wasted hours and unnecessary cost. This postcode lottery is simply unacceptable.”

The Home Office spokesman added: “The EU Settlement Scheme is making it simple and straightforward for EU citizens to get the status they need and we are concerned these remarks are not helping to make sure EU citizens receive accurate information. This is an entirely voluntary test phase, and we are continuing to improve the system before it fully launches on March 30. We want to reach everyone which is why we are working in partnership with vulnerable group representatives, local authorities and other experts to make sure we reach everyone.”

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