A DOZEN refugee families from camps in Lebanon and Jordan are set to be resettled in Stratford district.
Back in September members of Stratford District Council agreed to create a collection centre for donations of everything from clothing to toiletries in a bid to help the Syrian refugee crisis. They also pledged to use council resources to support government initiatives and provide an information sheet telling residents what they could do to help.
And councillors this week voted unanimously in favour of working with the Home Office to help accommodate up to 12 families in the district.
The move comes after Labour’s only representative, Coun Jason Fojtik put forward a notice of motion calling on the council to rehouse eight refugee families.
Speaking at the meeting, he urged council members to take action before the end of January and spoke of his grandfather who fled to Britain from Czechoslovakia in the 1930s to escape the Nazis.
Addressing councillors, he recalled how his grandfather had once told him: “I will always love my homeland as it’s where I grew up but my heart is with the country that gave me my freedom, my wife, my children, my grandchildren, and my life.”
And despite agreeing to increase the number of families from eight to 12, as well as ensuring funding is available for the support they need to settle into their new communities, district council housing spokesman Coun Dave Riches, said it would be unfair to try and house the families before the end of January.
He argued if the council were to make a commitment to do so, and were then unable to fulfil that promise, it could lead to people feeling ‘let down.’
The council were also keen to stress the humanitarian gesture should not impact on the re-housing of local families in need, and accommodating refugee families would form part of the district’s expected in-migration as identified in its Local Plan.
Backing the decision, council leader, Chris Saint said: “I was keen for us to engage from the word go, hence the September resolution.
“Admissions into the UK are under the control of the Home Office with whom we will have a dialogue. Officers have been working to establish a route to a solution and I will be keen to see that progress as quickly as possible.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to resettle more than 20,000 refugees in the UK between now and 2020 and earlier this week it was revealed almost 1,000 would be rehomed in time for Christmas.
Representatives from Stratford District Council were expected to meet with the Home Office on Friday (December 18).