Ukraine crisis: Harrogate is ready to accept refugees vows Harrogate Borough Council

Harrogate Borough Council has pledged to provide suitable accommodation for individuals and families fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 4:27 pm
Harrogate Borough Council leader Coun Richard Cooper and Harrogate Mayor Coun Trevor Chapman raise the Ukraine flag.
Harrogate Borough Council leader Coun Richard Cooper and Harrogate Mayor Coun Trevor Chapman raise the Ukraine flag.

The announcement by Harrogate Borough Council leader Coun Richard Cooper has contributed to a spat on the issue with Lib Dem Coun Pat Marsh over what Harrogate Borough Council was planning to do to help the people of Ukraine if they managed to get into the UK.

The Lib Dem leader on Harrogate council said: "The Liberal Democrat Group are eager to know what the council are going to do to help the People of Ukraine if they managed to get into our country,?" asked Coun Marsh.

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"What is being planned? Have we earmarked possible accommodation, have monies been allocated to help to feed, possibly clothe people?"

Coun Cooper pledged Harrogate stood ready to do its bit and had plans in place to welcome Ukranian refugees to Harrogate if - and when - required.

Coun Cooper said: “Harrogate Borough Council has not sat by and done nothing.

"The action you have asked for is already being taken and I am rather surprised you didn't know about it.

“We will take part in the Government’s matching scheme to provide suitable accommodation with individuals and families fleeing the war when the final arrangements for it are announced.

“I have asked the council housing team to identify available properties so we can react quickly to accommodate refugees when they arrive.

“I have also discussed the issue regarding visas with our MP Andrew Jones who has raised the issue in writing with the Prime Minister.”

Harrogate Borough Council's leader also said the council had made its stand on the broader issue of the Russian invasion of Ukraine clear and had already taken action.

Coun Cooper said: "We have determined that we have no contracts with Russian companies nor investments with them.

"We have cancelled perfprmances at the Royal Hall from Russian linked companies and we have shown our solidarity with the people of Ukraine by hoisting their flag at the Civic Centre and the War Memorial.

"I have also discussed the issue regarding visas with our MP Andrew Jones who has raised the issue in writing with the Prime Minister and in writing, too."

For the Lib Dems, Coun Marsh said: “The UK Government has so far only granted around 300 visas to the at least two million Ukrainian refugees who have fled their war-torn country, while the Poles have welcomed 1.2 million Ukrainians in two weeks.

“Ireland has also taken more than 2,000 people and expects to increase that to between 80,00 to 100,000.

“The European Union has activated a special law which will allow all people fleeing the conflict access to housing and other public services for an initial period of three years. They will not be asked to apply for asylum or visas. Can’t our Government be doing something very similar.

“Please lobby your Government to go further and faster to save these innocent people.”