This the text of the Open letter we have sent to Cllr Des Brailey - Leader of North Devon Council - after the Council deferred a decision to take in 4 Syrian refugee families as part the Government's resttlement scheme. We've received no response as yet!
Dear Cllr Brailey
Re: Syrian Refugee and Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme
The North Devon Constituency Labour Party notes that at North Devon Council Executive Committee on 7th November 2016 it was decided to defer the recommendation in the Officers Report to support the Government Syrian Refugee and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme. The minutes of the meeting indicate the decision was based on the need for “the Council to obtain assurances as to the resources available to satisfy the local needs and duties”.
In relation to your decision to defer the recommendation to assist four families under the Governments’ Resettlement scheme, what exact further clarification are you seeking from our MP Peter Heaton-Jones and/or the Government? The details of the scheme seem quite clear from the Governments Guidance. The report of your own officers dealt with the requirements and that most risks from entering the scheme would be mitigated and would not be detrimental to the Councils’ wider housing and financial responsibilities. Indeed, the funding provided by Government to cover costs of the scheme suggests there would be a neutral if not beneficial impact from participation.
We would also ask why NDC has not agreed to join in when the majority of other District Councils and Devon County Council have already taken the lead on this? Indeed, it has already been agreed to resettle around 29 families under the scheme in Devon. Is it really beyond the moral and social responsibility of NDC to take just 4 more families? Local public opinion, as shown by the support in Torrington for the young refugees there, is in our view, on the side of action which shows some common humanity towards these victims of war.
We call on NDC to reconsider its decision and act with more empathy and sympathy for families from Syria who have already faced trauma and violence. It should not be beyond your compassion, especially at this time of year, to show more charity to our fellow human beings from the Middle East.
Chair of North Devon Labour Party