SEP 00] RUGBY
BOROUGH COUNCIL NEWS
Hundreds More Refugees Heading This Way
More than 1,000
asylum seekers are due to set up home in Coventry and Warwickshire to
relieve overstretched areas of the south east.
And that could mean
local people on council house lists having to wait a bit longer while
homes are given to people fleeing war and distress in parts of eastern
Europe and the Balkans.
Councils have been
told to make way for the new arrivals, with 237 homes in Coventry and
another 167 in Warwickshire being required under a regional plan. Some
will be for families and others for single occupants.
It is thought there
are 2,000 asylum seekers in Coventry and Warwickshire and this could
add another 1,000.
It would mean local
councils entering into a contract with Government for the homing of
asylum seekers in each area.
Although this is
voluntary, a council not taking part could see another body taking on
their job in their area. And the Government has threatened to
eventually force councils to sign up if they do not volunteer
Councils will be paid
for taking on the asylum seekers, who are being moved from southern
cities and coastal ports, which have suffered social problems and
local unrest after many asylum seekers moved in.
Most councils in the
West Midlands are part of a regional consortium that is dealing with
the Dispersal Programme.
But officers fear
this could lengthen waiting lists and also the reaction of local
people already on the list in each of the council area.
It is likely that the
National Asylum Support Service will take over the responsibility for
asylum seekers already in the UK, leaving social services to deal with
the new arrivals.
The NASS will pay
local councils and landlords to get the homes ready and make regular
Tom Cudlip, director
of housing and environmental health at Rugby Borough Council, said:
“It is important
that the council plays a part in the relocation programme. The Home
Offices has advised it will use reserve powers to compel councils to
accommodate asylum seekers if they don’t enter into the agreement
NASS may contract with private sector agencies to rehouse asylum
seekers in the borough. If this happens, the council will not be
able to manage the process.
“While it is
right and proper that the council is seen to be helping and acting
in partnership, there is a danger that for small local authorities
the continuing demands to rehouse asylum seekers may have a
detrimental effect on the waiting list and consequently the housing
of local people.”