The mayor of a small town in Germany has triggered controversy by suggesting that an influx of immigrants would be the 'best thing that could happen'.
Oliver Junk, the mayor of Goslar, believes that immigration is the best way to regenerate the town, which despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is struggling to maintain it's population and economic growth.
Goslar has a population that currently sits at around 50,000, but with the figure falling by around 2,000 a year as young people flee to bigger cities and older citizens die, Junk sees refugees as the answer.
Mayor of Goslar, Oliver Junk
“We have plenty of empty housing, and rather than see it decay we could give new homes to immigrants, helping them, and so give our town a future," Junk told the Guardian.
Germany is set to receive half a million asylum seekers, but with towns being allocated refugees based on population and tax revenues per head, bigger and richer towns are obliged to take more refugees, leaving Goslar out of the question.
"This system is crazy," Junk said. "In big cities there is often a lack of housing, while in Goslar we have the space."
“It’s mad that in Göttingen they are having to build new accommodation, and are tearing their hair out as to where to put everyone, while we have empty properties and employers who are desperate for skilled workers,” Junk added.
Where in other parts of Europe officials are shunning migrants, Junk welcomes a fresh approach, pleading with politicians to adopt the 'Goslar Model'.
“They say to me, ‘rules are rules.’ It’s typically rigid and German, always having to work with finished concepts rather than allowing for new ideas. Anyone who tells me Germany is full up, or that we can’t afford them, I say think of our past, and of the future. Of course we can afford them – we’re a rich country, and we have a duty to help those in need."
“In each of these young men and all our refugees, there’s a chance for Germany,” Junk says.
Last year, Goslar welcomed 48 refugees and so far this year, 41. However, the far right aren't impressed, and there are plans to descend on Goslar on 29 August for an rally against Junk, with the slogan: "Perspectives, not mass immigration."