Warwick district councillors give unanimous support to motion to help refugees

Labour party members including Jerry Weber (fourth from left) and campaigners protest for more support for refugees.
Labour party members including Jerry Weber (fourth from left) and campaigners protest for more support for refugees.

Syrian refugees coming into Coventry have received unanimous support from Warwick district councillors.

At a meeting of the full council, the Labour Group lead by Cllr John Barrott of the Leamington Willes ward, put forward a motion for the authority to offer assistance to Coventry City Council and Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) as well as other practical ways to help asylum seekers coming to the area.

At the meeting, Cllr Barrott said: “I am sure that all members of this council have watched, with concern, the Syrian refugee crisis that has occurred as a direct result of the civil war.

“The news and stories that have been covered in the media has been received by the British public with absolute horror - a view that I am sure is shared by members of this council.

“The Labour Group has discussed this crisis at some length, taken the views from many members of the public and strongly believe that the Council should find practical ways to support the refugees coming to this country.”

Cllr Colin Quinney (Lab, Leam) said that there would be at least 60 Syrians coming into Coventry last week from earlier initiatives by the government with others to follow soon.

He said that refugees from places other than Syria, arrive every week and need to be housed, fed, supported socially and medically and taught English.

He added: “Helping Coventry cope should be our first priority - the Refugee and Migrant Centre in Coventry got very little from public funds during the application process.

“We also need to prepare for a possible overflow into the district from Coventry - for example start listing offers of accommodation from residents and check how that works in practice in Coventry or elsewhere.”

After the meeting, Sarah Frankland of the refugee and migrant centre said she was pleased by the positive atmosphere in the debate and unanimous support for the motion.

She said: “All the team at the CRMC - paid and voluntary - will be very cheered to be recognised in this way by their neighbours in Leamington.

“They are sometimes downhearted as the demand gets bigger and the funds get smaller but this will give them all a boost and have practical positive results in the coming months.”

Recommendations made in the motion included for the the council to lobby central government to make funds available to authorities for the full five years of resettlement and not just for the one year that has been announced and to enable staff and members to volunteer at nearby refugee centres.

Jerry Weber, chairman of the Warwick and Leamington Labour Party, said: “We’ve all been saddened by the plight of people fleeing conflict who are looking to Europe as a safe haven.

“Many people in our area want to express their concern through practical means and the decision by the council is an excellent step in supporting refugees and asylum seekers - many of whom are very young- coming to our communities in a very positive way.”