Labour challenges Bromley Leader: “Come clean – are you going to help or just spout sham sympathy?”

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Labour Group Leader, Cllr Angela Wilkins is calling on Council Leader, Cllr Colin Smith to say how many Afghan families the Council is prepared to accommodate and what other support the council is organising for them.

A recent Council press release quotes Cllr Smith as saying “…we are ready to have further dialogue with government about their exact requirements if and when that were to become necessary.”.

Recent press reports suggest that Bromley is one of a handful of councils in London who have either refused to accept any Aghan families or have failed to offer to accommodate any. Twenty seven out of 33 London Councils have already offered to help.

Bromley did not house any Syrian refugee families. The council also withdrew in 2019 from the pan London scheme to accept Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking Children, which they had originally signed.

A petition has been launched by local residents calling on the Council to take action.

Cllr Wilkins said:

“Action right here and now from Bromley is very necessary.

We are all very aware that our council, like other London Boroughs, has a housing crisis of its own – but of course this is partly because Bromley has not built new council housing since handing it all over to housing associations in 1992.

I also recognise that ‘support’ means more than housing – it means schools, GPs and lots of other services.

However, there is a ‘fair share’ agreement for all councils in the UK to play their part, and Bromley should not shy away from this moral responsibility.

Afghan families will have ‘leave to remain’ and entitlement to housing etc.; many will be in hotels and similar accommodation for a long time until suitable properties are found.

Fundamentally, only councils can deliver the support needed and so central government simply has to provide funding for them – and it will take years not weeks to settle families properly. 

The government funded councils delivering COVID work on the ground, so they can and must do the same to save lives once again. And Bromley need to pull their weight by getting involved not dither around waiting to be asked”