EDDC announce agreement to take in 'five to 10 refugees a year'

PUBLISHED: 16:33 20 May 2016

Archant

Plans to take in five to 10 Syrian refugee families in East Devon have been backed.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet voted in support of the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement drive when it met last Wednesday.

John Golding, the council’s strategic lead for housing, health and environment, said the majority of resettlement efforts in recent years had typically occurred in cities and more urban locations, but the Government was now encouraging local authorities to do their bit.

He added that the council’s primary role was to secure suitable housing for asylum seekers and refugees, and it had been working with Devon County Council (DCC) and other district authorities to develop a suitable approach.

Mr Golding said EDDC could accommodate five to 10 households per year.

“This seems to me to be a manageable number - it’s equal or higher than many of our neighbours,” he added.

“Some might consider this number quite small, but it will, if all local authorities offer this number, help achieve the Prime Minister’s target to house 20,000 refugees and asylum seekers.”

He added DCC guidance was to secure accommodation with five-year tenancies, offering humanitarian protection and funding for education and health throughout this time.

Mr Golding said, at this stage, EDDC was only proposing to source properties from the private sector.

He added that it did not want to cause conflict, so was not looking to use its own council accommodation as that was what local people, including those on the housing waiting list, wanted to avoid.

Councillor Jill Elson said EDDC must ensure it did everything properly.

“I would rather we did five properly than 10 and have somebody fall through the cracks,” she said.

“They have gone through a hell of a trauma, having to leave their homes with nothing at all, living in refugee camps - I can’t think of anything worse.

“These people have gone through a very traumatic experience and therefore health, mental health and wellbeing are issues we will and should have to deal with.

“The voluntary sector will be key to this because there are cultural and religious difference and so on which will have to be dealt with.

“It is not going to be easy for them and it is not going to be easy for some of our own people.”

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