Decision on housing Syrian refugees in Norfolk to be made on Monday

Syrian families embark a bus, transferring them to the western coastal Greek town of Kyllini, from

Syrian families embark a bus, transferring them to the western coastal Greek town of Kyllini, from the Athens port of Piraeus, Thursday, March 31, 2016. Hundreds of Syrian refugees began leaving the port after translators provided by the government convinced them to be transferred to camps that would provide safe and clean living conditions. More than 50,000 migrants remain stranded in Greece following border restrictions and closures by Austria and Balkan nations. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) - Credit: AP

Councillors will vote on Monday to decide whether to rehome 50 Syrian refugees in the county after approving the move in principle.

The British government has agreed to take in 20,000 refugees over the next five years from the Syrian civil war, described as the biggest refugee crisis to hit Europe since the Second World War.

Norfolk's councils agreed last year to accept their share of refugees in principle, with them being housed in private rented accommodation in Norwich and Broadland.

The Norfolk County Council meeting on Monday morning will be picketed before the vote by 84 councillors, organised by Sanctuary Norfolk.

Organiser Julie Bremner said they expect around 40 people to lobby the meeting with placards and banners.


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'Following the recent demonstrations around the Romanian shop and in support of migrants, Norfolk must do its bit to help the refugees fleeing war in Syria,' she said. 'It is a crime against humanity if we do not offer help. We are talking about one bus load of people - maybe we can build one less roundabout.

'Norfolk County Council has £1m from central government and Norwich City Council has offered money for housing. The time is now. Only the heartless would vote against this small act of solidarity and kindness.'

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Council officers have estimated it would cost £128,553 for each given the specialist support needed - giving a figure of £1,427,659 over a seven-year period.

However, Westminster is only willing to pay £1m – leaving Norfolk to make up the £400,000 shortfall.

And officers say the lack of additional discretionary housing benefit to top up housing benefit leaves a further £216,000 shortfall.

To plug the latter gap, all seven district councils are being asked to contribute £30,000.

At the meeting the Green group leader Richard Bearman will be requesting that Cliff Jordan, the Council leader, commits his support for this action.

He is expected to ask: 'Does the leader agree that this Council should make the humanitarian decision to accept 50 Syrian refugees for resettlement and commend those citizens of Norwich who have responded so positively to this crisis by their generous offers of help, both in kind and by donation?'

Mr Bearman said: 'It is very pleasing to hear of the offer from Norfolk citizens of free language classes, and the support from the Arabic speaking community. Also the fact the bishop of Norwich's fund has received several thousands of pounds in donations already to assist, shows that the citizens of this fine city are much more welcoming to those in need than central Government. I therefore feel it is my duty as a councillor to ensure that Norfolk County Council does its bit too.'

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