‘Strictly limited’ spaces for refugees in Chichester, says council leader

Tony Dignum, centre, made the statement at Tuesday's cabinet meeting (September 8). Rest of the cabinet pictured here.
Tony Dignum, centre, made the statement at Tuesday's cabinet meeting (September 8). Rest of the cabinet pictured here.

Refugees will be welcome in the Chichester district but there are only limited spaces, the leader of the council has warned.

Tony Dignum said the district council would ‘fully co-operate’ with the government’s plans when these are set out in more detail next week.

Many bed and breakfast establishments within the district are not prepared to accept homeless families and it is likely to be the same with asylum seekers

Tony Dignum, leader of Chichester District Council

Syrian refugees will be offered places to stay as the government tries to help the thousands fleeing conflict.

“Our housing department is already identifying how many vacant units may be made available in the council’s own accommodation for the homeless, but these are likely to be strictly limited,” he said.

“Many bed and breakfast establishments within the district are not prepared to accept homeless families and it is likely to be the same with asylum seekers.

“We have already been approached by members of the public offering to provide a room or two in their homes for asylum seekers.

“We welcome these offers and they will all be followed up when we are advised of those refugees wishing to come to the district.

“Those offering rooms need to be aware of the challenges they may face and that they may need safeguarding checks. The refugees may have suffered severe trauma and may require intensive emotional and medical support.

“Council officers will do all they can to help settle the refugees happily in their hosts’ homes.”

The prime minister said the UK would accommodate 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.

David Cameron said the foreign aid budget could provide financial support in the first year for these refugees and be targeted to help local councils with housing costs.

Cllr Dignum added if all local authorities played their part, the numbers coming here would be ‘low’.

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