Refugee housing plan '˜does not go far enough' say councillors

Housing just five refugee families in Leamington does not go far enough to help thousands in need, said councillors as they agreed a resettlement plan.

Monday, 16th May 2016, 11:42 am
Updated Monday, 16th May 2016, 12:56 pm
GV - Shire Hall, Warwick. NNL-161201-211317009

Warwickshire County Council cabinet approved plans for 31 families to be homed across its five boroughs and districts when they met on Thursday.

Of this number, five will come to Warwick district and be housed in privately rented homes in Leamington.

But frustrated members said they needed to step up and do more for desperate people fleeing war-town Syria in the coming years.

Cllr Philip Johnson (Lab) told members: “I think these figures are disappointing and unambitious of this council.

“We are taking in one family per district per year. Other places are projecting to take on hundreds of people and we are talking about 31 families.

“We are a relatively wealthy area and these people are not in a good place.

“They are being bombed out of their homes and if we were faced with that situation we would all want to do the best for our families.”

Conservative council leader, Cllr Izzi Seccombe said numbers were limited by what the housing authorities - such as Warwick District Council - would approve, but urged cabinet members to work to try and boost these figures.

She said: “I could not agree more with what has been said. We are in effect the legal authority here but a lot of this needs to be looked at with our housing authorities.

“My heart sinks when I see these figures but I ask that all of us use our influence on the district and borough councils to encourage talks.

“I understand they have housing lists as long as your arm, but those waiting at least have something which is more than these people have.”

WDC’s executive rejected a motion earlier this year to change wording of plans to ‘at least’ five families in order to prevent panic and confusion and leader, Andrew Mobbs said it was “much more complicated” than a housing issue.

The county council must take in refugees as part of the Government’s scheme to resettle 20,000 people, which includes central funding of up to £11,000 per child.