Syria crisis: Luton Borough Council offers to home ten youngsters

MBLN Luton Town Hall, George Street, 'Connie Primmer'JR 19'2013 ENGPNL00120130513114612

MBLN Luton Town Hall, George Street, 'Connie Primmer'JR 19'2013 ENGPNL00120130513114612

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Luton Borough Council has made a provisional offer to home ten young Syrians– but says that the town’s housing shortage makes it ‘very difficult’ to make more of a commitment.

Since the worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Syria over the last month councils up and down the country have considered whether they can help by taking in refugees.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that over the next five years the UK will take up to 20,000 refugees living in camps bordering Syria and that the government will work with local councils to ensure that the scheme is “properly delivered on the ground”.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday night Luton councillors discussed the crisis and agreed to write to the PM to ask for a summit of local authority leaders ‘to agree what more could be done to support refugees and asylum seekers’.

Following the meeting LBC has made an immediate offer to home ten young Syrians over the age of 16.

Council leader Hazel Simmons said due to the town’s ‘housing crisis’ the authority is not able to make a larger offer immediately.

Cllr Simmons said: “While we are still awaiting the government’s advice and instructions on how the national response will work, we have already started looking at plans for any immediate response which may be required.

“It’s no secret that Luton is in the middle of a housing crisis in that we don’t even have enough properties to support our current residents who find themselves homeless; not to mention the serious strain on school places in the town.

“This makes an offer of long-term accommodation very difficult.

“In addition, we have very limited school places, especially in some of the primary year groups. However, given the scale of the crisis unfolding, we made a provisional offer to initially (year 1) accommodate 10 young people aged 16 years and over.”

Cllr Simmons added that a meeting of community leaders would be set up in the coming weeks to ‘look at others ways Luton can and will support people affected by this awful crisis’.

> What do you make of the council’s offer? Email editorial@lutonnews.co.uk or tweet @LutonNews