Council leader Richard Cooper urges support for war refugees with more set to arrive in Harrogate

The leader of Harrogate Council has spoken of his hope that the borough could accept even more people fleeing conflict in other countries as the authority signed up to take more than 50 refugees over the next four years as part of a Government-lead resettlement scheme.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 6:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 6:51 pm

Coun Richard Cooper (Con) said that the borough council could be helping more people and said he hoped other councils would follow its lead.

He said: “I am very proud that we at Harrogate have decided to have a mid-point review of the scheme, alongside the NHS, social services and the Government to see if we can take even more people.

Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Richard Cooper, wants to open Harrogate's doors to more refugees from war-torn countries.

“It is not a matter of money it is a matter of humanity. I think we absolutely can do more and that is why we have asked for the early review to see how many more people we can help.These people are fleeing hardships that we, with our comfy sofas and flat screen TVs, can only imagine.”

Earlier this year, the Local Government North Yorkshire and York committee, made up of leaders from the area’s authorities, backed the future refugee resettlement scheme from 2020/21, pending final approval from the individual councils.

It will see around 200 people fleeing conflicts in other countries re-homed in the county over the space of four years. Harrogate Borough Council along with the county’s six other district councils have each been allocated an approximate number of people to house.

From 2016 to 2018, Harrogate accepted 61 Syrian refugees fleeing conflict in their own country as part of another county-wide resettlement program of approximately 200 people.

The new proposed allocation would see an estimated 52 people resettled in Harrogate, the most of any district, between 2020/21 and 2023/24.

Scarborough is next with 35, while Hambleton and Selby will have 30 and 29 respectively. On Monday (16th), Harrogate Council’s cabinet gave its backing to the scheme with the caveat that it would be re-examined early to see if more people could be housed in the borough.

A report prepared for councillors stated that: “The number of refugees worldwide is calculated to be the highest ever at 25.9 million, and since 2017 refugees have made up almost one per cent of the global population for the first time in modern history.

“Harrogate District successfully took part in the Syrian Resettlement Programme (SRP) and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS). The welcoming hand of hospitality should be extended once again to people in extreme distress.”