North Yorkshire: ‘Syrian refugees won’t arrive in Harrogate this year’

Tis Harrogate Council Offices on Crescent Gardens.(1401045c)
Tis Harrogate Council Offices on Crescent Gardens.(1401045c)

Harrogate Borough Council (HBC )have confirmed they are in discussion with North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) over how many Syrian refugees they will be accepting.

NYCC are currently working together with eight North Yorkshire district councils, including Harrogate, to arrange a co-ordinated response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

While it has not yet been decided how many refugees each North Yorkshire district will take or when, Coun Mike Chamber, Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities said he would like the process to start ‘sooner rather than later’.

He said: “There will be a co-ordinated response from the County and District councils to ensure that we are able to provide for the needs and requirements of the refugees when they start to arrive.

“There are a few refugees who have already arrived in the country and we have said that we will play a full part as well. What we are discussing now is numbers.

“It depends on what comes out of discussions on how many numbers each district will take and how we can accommodate them.

“There is no exact time frame but we are keen to get it moving and start getting refugees in as are the government.”

The next phase of discussions will include a mapping exercise to establish what provisions might realistically be provided locally.

These include issues such as housing, schooling and health requirements of the refugees with Coun Chambers concluding this process is done ‘absolutely right’.

He said: “I’m very touched by the response we have had from the public so it’s even more important in this regard that we do it right.

“We would all like to see refugees arriving sooner rather than later but it’s important everything is planned in advance to ensure it is done right.

“Then we can say, ‘this is what Harrogate can offer, this is what Harrogate is able to provide and in that way we are able to fulfil our promise of playing a full part in assisting refugees.”

NYCC’s Assistant Director of Policy and Partnerships, Neil Irving, stated the importance of intergrating refugees into the community but said they would not be arriving in 2015.