Resort agrees to host Syrian refugees

A Syrian covers his face as he walks with a friend between destroyed buildings in the old city of Homs, Syria,
A Syrian covers his face as he walks with a friend between destroyed buildings in the old city of Homs, Syria,
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Properties are being set aside to host Syrian families in Blackpool as part of Lancashire’s commitment to helping refugees.

The county is expected to welcome up to 500 Syrian refugees in next five years.

The figures were revealed to councillors attending a county council scrutiny committee yesterday.

Blackpool, South Ribble, Preston and Pendle will be the first districts to take part in the Government funded resettlement.

County Council equality and cohesion manager Saulo Cwerner outlined how the programme would be introduced and funded, explaining that Preston and South Ribble would have five properties for five families, while Pendle and Blackpool would each have 10 properties.

He said the Syrians, who would not arrive before the summer, would be settled in just three to five local council areas each year to prevent them feeling isolated.

Councillors were told there had been months of negotiations over funding and while at first the Government had hoped individual local councils would come forward to offer places, now there was to be a sub-regional approach, with Lancashire acting as the lead authority in the county.

Properties will have to be found, furnished to appropriate standards and a welcome pack of food and £200 funding provided for arrivals to meet their initial costs.

The newcomers will then have an intensive few weeks helping them to settle in and there would be a need for language tuition, interpretation and translation services.

First year funding will be at £8,520 per refugee with £2,250 extra for children aged three to four and £4,500 for those aged five to 18.

It was agreed that the council would write to the Government asking for more details on the mechanisms and timing of funding.

County Coun Liz Oades said: “I do really feel the Government needs to give us clarity.”

No-one from Blackpool Council was available for comment yesterday.

But previously CounSimon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: ““Given the thousands of often very troubled people from within the UK who turn up in Blackpool every year, with little more than the shirt on their back, I think we can find it within our hearts and wallets, to take just a handful more.

“We are currently creating a plan that will enable us to take a small number of refugees and place them somewhere where they will be able to integrate in to the community and access suitable housing, somewhere to find a job and schools for children to study at.

“Those plans will be tailored to what is best for those individuals and the families – something which we will find out in due course.”