Labour councillors refuse to offer sanctuary to Syrian refugees

April 1, 2014 3:54 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg has spoken out after it was revealed Sheffield's Labour Council Leader has refused to help vulnerable women and children refugees from Syria.

It has emerged that Council Leader Julie Dore has contacted the Home Office to refuse the request for Sheffield to take part in the Coalition Government's Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme. The decision was apparently taken by Labour councillors behind closed doors and without any consultation.

Nick, who announced the Syrian refugee resettlement programme in January, has called on the Council to think again about their decision.

Nick Clegg Labour Sheffield Council Syrian refugees

Sheffield had been asked to resettle just a small number of some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Resettling Syrian refugees would cost the Council nothing in the first year of the five years in which they would have leave to remain.

Last week, Syrian refugees started to arrive in the UK under the VPR and be placed with local authorities who have agreed to help. For example, it is understood that Bradford Council have offered to support around 50 individuals.

Just before the Syrian refugee resettlement programme was announced in January local Labour MP Paul Blomfield said: "with sufficient pressure, even this Government can be shamed into backing down on their refusal to take even small numbers of the most vulnerable refugees".

Commenting on Labour's decision, Nick said:

"Councils are being asked to take just a small number of refugees under this scheme and Sheffield has a history of assisting those who are in desperate need of help.

"So, it came as both a huge shock and disappointment to me that the Council Leader has decided to shut the door on some of the most vulnerable people in the world, without any consultation with local people at all.

"Given that Labour MPs were so vocal in calling for the resettlement programme, I hope they will now put pressure on their Labour colleagues in the Town Hall and use their influence to reverse this appalling decision.

"I'm proud of Sheffield's standing as a City of Sanctuary, but I'm deeply concerned that local Labour councillors are tarnishing that reputation by refusing to help vulnerable women and children displaced by the terrible conflict in Syria."