The Croeso Penarth group celebrated finding local accommodation for a family of Syrian refugees (Facebook photo) – but the Vale Council had to establish whether their plans were sustainable

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is to recommend next week that its cabinet should approve an application from the unofficial group called “Croeso Penarth” [Welcome Penarth] to accommodate more refugees from Syria.

Croeso Penarth  (a group which is not a registered charity, has no official status and is supposed to be politically neutral) had apparently complained to Cardiff South and Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty that the Conservative-led Vale Council was slow in responding to an application to accommodate the refugees in Penarth.

The logo of the “Croeso Penarth” group which aims to resettle Syrian refugees in Penarth

On April 17th Doughty seized what appeared to be an opportunity to embarrass the Conservative-run Vale of Glamorgan Council and raised the matter directly with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons. He told her “I am disappointed that the efforts being made by Croeso Penarth in my constituency to house Syrian refugees are being frustrated by the local council . I am disappointed to see the very strict rules on family reunion being interpreted in the way they are”.

Doughty had also gone far as to make a geographically-dubious claim that the Vale of Glamorgan Council was – as he put it – “in my constituency”  – which it mostly isn’t.

Doughty claimed that “Croeso Penarth”s efforts to settle a Syrian family in the town  had been frustrated by the Vale of Glamorgan Council . The Vale Council said Doughty’s allegation was wrong.

Housing refugees, however, is a complicated process which involves liaising with a number of different agencies and also making sure there are resources available if the volunteer-driven pro-refugee charities and do-gooding groups – which may have initiated applications for re-settlement schemes – subsequently disappear from the scene.

On April 20th Croeso Penarth had a further meeting with the leaders of the re-settlement scheme in the Vale of Glamorgan Council to evaluate updated plans. Also attending the meeting were statutory partners from Cardiff Council.

In a full meeting of the Vale of Glamorgan Council on April 25th Council Leader John Thomas had laid-into MP Stephen Doughty and dismantled Doughty’s allegations in Parliament that the Vale Council had been dragging its feet

On April 25th the  leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council – Cllr John Thomas publicly hit back at Stephen Doughty in a televised meeting of the full council  saying “I am extremely disappointed at the language used by Stephen Doughty MP in his statement to Parliament – which implies that the authority has deliberately sought to obstruct a community sponsorship application from “Croeso Penarth”.

Cllr Thomas went on to say I remind members that the authority is duty bound to ensure that each application is sufficient  and sustainable – and that the needs of the vulnerable refugees can be fully met over the long-term  before it can consent to an application progressing further. This obligation is set out clearly in the guidance issued to local authorities”.

Cllr Thomas declared “There has been NO deliberate attempt to frustrate the process – despite the allegation.” [ which had been made by Doughty] . Cllr Thomas added that the Vale of Glamorgan Council “is fully and positively committed to assisting Syrian families – having already provided refuge for 6 families and  a commitment to provide additional units this year.”

Doughty’s Twitter post – accompanied by an earnest-looking selfie – appeared to be an attempt to gloss over his initial allegation

On  May 4th Doughty –  having traduced the Vale of Glamorgan Council  in the House of Commons – was called upon to attend a meeting  with Vale Council leader, Cllr John Thomas, at the council’s headquarters in Barry.

The council’s extensive work for the refugees is said to have been spelled out to him in detail.

After the meeting – –    Doughty placed an ameliorative post on Twitter accompanied by a selfie – apparently taken by himself on his own mobile phone.

Doughty’s Twitter post however seemed to gloss-over what was – by any measure – a serious and unsubstantiated allegation he had made against the Vale Council. Written in “Twitterspeak” it read :- “Constructive meet this morning with @VOGCouncil Leader to discuss roads/transport in Penarth, Sully and Llandough, education, policing , Penarth Pier and to try to resolve Syria refugee scheme issue in Penarth . We have political differences but always imp to keep dialogue open”. No apology appears to have been given.

Meanwhile the real business of finding a new home for the resettlement of refugees in the Vale continues. The Vale of Glamorgan resettled 4 families in the first year and has, so far, resettled 2 families in the second year, with plans to receive an additional 2 families in June 2018.

On Monday May 21st the Vale Council’s cabinet is due to receive a report from the team of council officers working on the re-settlement scheme which will recommend that the Vale should now move forward with further arrangements to house Syrian refugees .

However this internal Vale Council report also registers some caveats and reservations. It says that it “recognises both the benefits and risks associated with participation in the scheme” and warns that the council has to take into account “the consequences of hosting a community sponsorship scheme, including the impact on local resources and the implications for the Authority in the event that a Sponsor  is unable to fulfil its obligation.”

Local authorities have now pledged to jointly resettle up to 60 refugees in the first year, (including 4 families  in the Vale and 6 in Cardiff). This commitment is to be repeated annually for the lifespan of the programme.  During this time refugees will have the right to work and to claim relevant benefits. After five years these refugees will have the option of applying to extend their leave in the UK.

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  1. Kate says:

    I doubt they’re Syrian at all. Most of the so called refugees are opportunists ferried in by NGOs from north Africa to further an agenda.

    • Wayne says:

      Bet you that they will not be housed close to any councillor..
      If they have empty housing they should give them to people who are on the housing list.
      After all they are tax payers . And who will be paying rent for these Syrians..
      The people of the vale through their rates..
      All I have to say is Charity Begins At Home..and not in some far off land..

      • GuardianReaderBleedingHeartLiberal says:

        The prize for misunderstanding the phrase ‘Charity begins at home’ goes to….

        Let me ask, have you met any of these people; those fleeing death and despair at the hands of their own government? Should we not happily fund them to live in safety and shelter in our neighbourhoods? After all, charity begins at home.

    • Ralph says:

      And you know that how ?.

  2. penarthian says:

    Any Council’s priority should be accommodating local people in homes. It’s depressing walking through Cardiff to see at least 10 homeless people on the streets. Not a great advert for Cardiff or Wales. Affordable housing for locals should be top
    Of the list. Then worry about others.

  3. Phil Dawson says:

    “…but always imp to keep dialogue open”
    What means this ‘imp’ please?

  4. Frank Evans says:

    Let the do gooders finance this themselves by selling their own houses. Not making the rest of us psy for relocation of economic migrsnts.
    Doughty in favour cause more migrant votes, sod the normal Penarth electorate.

  5. Taxpayer says:

    What about the people of this county who have nothink!!!!they should come 1st……

  6. sarah says:

    Reading all these uncompaasionate comments is really depressing. Come on people, open up your hearts a little bit. We’re talking about people who have possibly been through terrors that we can not even begin to imagine, a little caring and empathy couldn’t hurt could it?

    • Frank Evans says:

      Economic migrants from abroad when we can’t look after our own. Maybe you are the heartless and shellfish one.

    • Piper says:

      It’s a shame people don’t show their fellow countrymen and women more empathy. Try wandering down to Park Place, Cardiff – there are homeless people living in tents behind the museum (I counted ten the other day) who I’m sure would love to be re-housed. Are they not worthy of your empathy?

  7. OD says:

    The report states VoG has housed a total of 8 families over 2 years, and now proposes housing another 4 per year. Hardly a massive influx, and one which this part of the world can easily afford and accommodate. As Sarah says, for a country which prides itself on being welcoming and hospitable the comments above are sad to read.

    • Piper says:

      @ OD “This part of the world can easily afford and accomodate” – Er, you clearly haven’t heard of the national debt?!?!? Let me enlighten you that when factoring in all liabilities including state and public sector pensions, the national debt is almost £4.8 trillion, some £78,000 for every person in the UK.

      But don’t worry, we can afford to have our taxes hiked ever higher to pay for all and sundry from half way across the world. I assume you don’t think that the increased numbers won;t put further strain on the NHS and other public sector services that the people of the UK paid for and can no longer utilise?

      It’s simple logic but the wealthy residents of the UK are yet to be effected and so don’t see how the slow car crash is playing out.

      • Ralph says:

        Or you could enlighten yourself about the plight of Syrians where over the past 4 years more than 250,000 civilians have lost their lives.

    • Taxpayer says:

      What about the older people who are not eating as well as they should be,and can’t heat there houses, family’s on a low income,paying tax !can’t get council housing! And all the people living on the streets in Cardiff!!What about them?

  8. John says:

    Doughty makes my blood boil.

  9. Birkett says:

    We’ll keep a welcome in the hillsides, etc.

    Unless you actually intend to take us up on that offer, then we’ll descend into petty xenophobia and narrow-mindedness. And don’t be English, either. Or from North Wales.

  10. snoggerdog says:

    i read in the paper recently that lily allen couldnt accommodateany refugees because her house was fully occupied,then i read our hospitals,schools,roads,trains & infrasructure cant cope or are at full capacity whats the difference?

  11. Hugh Chadderton says:

    Croeso Penarth isn’t a charity, company or public body. Why are VoGC talking to them?

  12. Simon Ballance says:

    Stephen Doughty’s claim that the Vale of Glamorgan is in his constituency is correct and is far less “dubious” than the claim that Andrew R T Davies represents Penarth.

    • Richard Williams says:

      Only a small part of the Vale of Glamorgan is in Stephen Doughty’s constituency of Cardiff South and Penarth. However the whole of Penarth and the Vale of Glamorgan is in Andrew R T Davies’s constituency of South Wales Central. In fact Andrew R T Davies is the AM for Stephen Doughty because Cardiff South and Penarth is also entirely within the borders of South Wales Central

      • John Powell says:

        But the claim is that RTD is Penarth’s AM – the semantics suggesting a closer relationship than there is really.

Comments are closed.