A war of words has broken out amongst Brighton and Hove councillors over how much more the city should be doing to take in Syrian refugees.
Green councillor Leo Littman has called on the city to take in more, accusing it of “fine words and no concrete action” – but Labour’s community spokeswoman Emma Daniel has hit back, saying the Greens have “cynically exploited the humanitarian crisis to grab attention.”
At the heart of the disagreement is a working group set up to discuss the issue, which Cllr Littman said should be opened up to outside groups and a crisis summit held to identify additional support.
He said: “We were convinced by the council leader that somehow going down the panel route would help but in fact it has simply allowed the administration to be allowed to get away with many fine words and no concrete action. We simply do not believe that this is good enough.
“While I’m sure those councillors chosen to sit on the working group will do their best, its inward-looking nature means we will fail to harness the enthusiasm and expertise of the many individuals and organisations in the city who are willing and able to help us improve provision for refugees fleeing for their lives and asking us for sanctuary.”
However, Emma Daniel hit back, saying the city’s work had already attracted potential extra Home Office funding.
She said: “Leo Litman has done some great work on refugees and moving the city towards our city of sanctuary status but since the Syrian crisis the Green Group have cynically exploited the humanitarian crisis to grab attention. They don’t call for anything specific beyond the rigorous action we have taken.
“I have worked tirelessly with a committed and experienced officer team to ensure that we can accommodate at least nine households in accommodation that doesn’t push people already in housing need in our city further down the queue. We have supported Kent County Council with unaccompanied children.
“We are widely recognised as the most proactive and humanitarian area in the South east which means that the Home Office are seeking to support us financially. We can and will play our full part in supporting victims of the Syrian conflict.”
Anyone who can offer help in housing refugees should email firstname.lastname@example.org.