William Eichler 25 January 2016

Homes earmarked for refugees needed for flood-stricken residents, council says

Council ‘exempted’ from housing refugees because homes are needed for victims of the recent floods, The Westmorland Gazette reports.

Cumbria County Council has been granted an exemption from the Government’s plans to settle 30 Syrian families in their area because of a shortage of available housing after the floods.

The Westmorland Gazette reports that Jim Onions, the county chief fire officer and coordinator of Cumbria's response to the refugee crisis, told the Government that much of the previously available stock of rental housing in the county has been rented out to people affected by the floods so there is no capacity to take in refugees.

People waiting for their homes to dry out and to have building work done will be out of their homes for six months and so are forced to rent elsewhere.

Matthew Connolly of Refugee Support and Sanctuary Cumbria (Resscu), told the Gazette: ‘I totally understand that there is now a local crisis which eclipses what is happening internationally.

‘After the floods we need to lick our wounds and sort ourselves out first, but as someone who has been working hard to help refugees for many months I want the message to be that we are still on the case and will not give up.’

In a statement, a spokesperson for Cumbria County Council said: ‘Before the floods Cumbria was among the first to offer assistance to Syrian refugees and to date, all the refugees that have come to the UK have been successfully allocated to other parts of the country.

‘We will keep this situation under review but obviously since the floods our focus, first and foremost, has to be on supporting our own communities through these difficult and challenging times.’

Photo: Procyk Radek / Shutterstock.com

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