Row breaks out over city’s Syrian refugee aid

Posted On 21 Oct 2015 at 1:38 pm

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.

Flag Syria outlineIn September, the city council pledged to take at least five families, and is now hoping to house nine, as well as some unaccompanied children on behalf of Kent County Council.

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.”

Meanwhile, a petition urging the council to take in more refugees has been signed by almost 600 people.

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

  1. Michael Rogers Reply

    Are any of the 600 who have signed the petition prepared to offer accomidation or financial support ?

    • Spooky Reply

      And how many of the 600 actually live in Brighton I wonder…

  2. Patrick H Reply

    600 signatures from a City that is home to 250,000. Hardly earth shattering is it? We all know the Greens are far more interested in housing and looking after immigrants than they are British people.

  3. martin lawrence Reply

    Well said Emma H Daniel , a petition calling for the current homeless in Brighton to be housed before the refugees attracted 100 signatures in less than 12 hours . The greens never fail to jump on a media campaign for attention. If they had the support of the people they would not have lost over 50% of their seats on the council , bottom line the people , many of them Green supporters, Lucas increased her vote,had enough of them and voted accordingly.My concern is that Home Office funding is for 12 months and I would be interested to know what it covers bearing in mind social care ,schooling and the National Health are stretched to breaking point as it is

  4. George Reply

    Actually the Greens are calling for efforts to involve local groups, and for the Council to request funding for more than just 12 months. There are several London boroughs taking in 50 families each. The city can do more.

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