Council can help in Syrian refugee crisis

Labour's Coppetts ward councillors have set out a number of ways Barnet council could help in the Syrian refugee crisis in a letter to the local press:

Dear Editor

The plight of Syrian families trying to reach a safe haven away from war, brutality, fear and hardship is a situation none of us can ignore nor fail to be moved by.

For many, this will be the first time that they have witnessed such mass migration, others will remember Edward Heath responding to the expulsion of Asian Ugandans and some alive still remember the kindertransport and the help given to Jewish refugees.

Today we have people fleeing a war torn country and risking their lives in order to live and find freedom - basic instincts in all of us.

So we know the situation and now is the time to act.

There have been many welcome initiatives from local residents and faith groups, some of whom have been in touch with the council for help and advice.

We believe Barnet council is best placed to offer that help and advice, and play a co-ordinating role by allowing residents to register an interest in hosting people fleeing Syria, and putting them in contact with community groups who are organising initiatives.

Barnet Council could also explore using vacant council properties on regeneration estates set for demolition with 6 months or longer to run to house refugees in immediate need - 41 properties are available with 6 months or longer until demolition.

The council could use its storage facilities to receive donations for refugees.

There are many things that could be done to help. No matter how small our contribution, if it were repeated across all councils it would make a considerable difference.

Earlier this week the Labour Group asked to meet Richard Cornelius, as Leader of the Council, along with senior officers so that we can play our role in seeing what contribution the council and councillors could make to help alleviate the terrible suffering of people forced to leave their country because of war.

We are pleased to say that Cllr Cornelius has agreed to our request for this cross-party meeting.

Yours sincerely
Cllr Pauline Coakley Webb
Cllr Reema Patel
Cllr Barry Rawlings
Labour councillors for Coppetts ward

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