Council in talks over support for refugees

Refugees from Syria arrive at the train station  in Dortmund, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015. Thousands of migrants and refugees arrived in Dortmund by trains. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Refugees from Syria arrive at the train station in Dortmund, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015. Thousands of migrants and refugees arrived in Dortmund by trains. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Council bosses are in discussions with central government over how the borough could help with the European refugee crisis.

The UK has agreed to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees.

Councillor Margaret Smith, leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said this week: “We are keen to do our bit and help in any way we can to cope with the relocation of the refugees.

“It has been distressing to see images on the news of those affected by the crisis and we are in talks with central government about what support we can give.

“We do not currently have any details of how such relocation schemes will work.”

She added: “South Ribble Borough Council does not have any housing stock, so any offer of housing would have to come by mutual agreement with our social landlords and other partners.”

Last week, neighbouring Chorley Council revealed it, too, was in talks with government authorities to offer its support during the humanitarian crisis unfolding across Europe.

Councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “It’s been very distressing to see the images on the news and it is right that we offer our support and help out where we can. We’ve seen a groundswell of support from local people on social media with residents wanting to support those affected by the crisis and we’d be happy to have a discussion with those co-ordinating activities locally to see if we can help them too.

“We’ve been working with the authorities to see if we can help and we’re just waiting to see what support they need.”

The council will be contacting its housing providers to see what availability there is with a view to hosting a number of refugees in the borough.

Jan Coyne, 35, from Clayton­-le-­Woods has created the ‘Chorley’s Solidarity With Refugees’ Facebook group and said: “I’ve had almost 150 people join the Facebook group within 24 hours offering to do fund­raising and donate.

“I think that the generosity that the people of Chorley and Lancashire have will help make this work.

“We are all human beings.

“It doesn’t matter where we’re from and where we live ­it’s about coming together and doing something positive to help these people.”

Prime Minister David Cameron visited a Lebanese refugee camp as pressure grew on the UK to do more to help with the crisis.

Meanwhile, Austria has become the latest European country to tighten border controls.

It follow similar action from Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland.

EU interior ministers are due to hold an emergency meeting on the migrant crisis.