Calderdale Council pledges to welcome refugees and treat them with dignity

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Councillors in Calderdale have committed their authority to becoming a Council of Sanctuary for people forced to flee their homes.

The proposal was made by Councillor Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) as she slammed the Conservative Government’s Nationality and Borders Act and proposed Illegal Migration Bill at a full council meeting on Wednesday (July 26).

"This resolution is asking all of us in this chamber to stand up for our Calderdale values of dignity and respect for all, and to reject the divisive rhetoric that tries to demonise people who come seeking a place of safety and a new life here in Calderdale,” she said.

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“We know that we are all the richer because over the years people from right across the world have made their home in Calderdale and contributed so much to the economic, social and cultural life of our borough.”

The motion was proposed by Councillor Jenny LynnThe motion was proposed by Councillor Jenny Lynn
The motion was proposed by Councillor Jenny Lynn

Coun Lynn said around 700 people seeking asylum are living in Calderdale in what the Government calls “dispersed accommodation”.

They receive £45 a week to pay for everything including food, phone calls and bus fares – £7 a day – she said.

Coun Dot Foster (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said those accommodated in hotels received just £8.24 weekly.

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Coun Lynn said: “Yet the Government keeps them waiting, in limbo, for months and often years and refuses to allow them to take on paid work to do jobs that are needed, to pay taxes into the system – how crazy is that?”

Coun Regan Dickenson (Con, Rastrick) said the country had a long history of welcoming political refugees and people seeking shelter from persecution, and failure to support those who served and assisted British forces in Afghanistan stuck in his craw.

But he felt some parts of Coun Lynn’s motion were problematic. It said “no migrant should be considered illegal” but he said it was wrong that Albanians were coming across on boats “to an uncertain future and the hands of gangs, exploitation and trafficking” from a country regarded as one safe for freedom of expression and from where potentially they could have arrived with visas.

Along with other Conservative councillors, he abstained in the vote, with the motion supported and passed by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green councillors.