NEXT SDL DEMO AFTER ALLOA WILL BE WISHAW. A Wishaw councillor has questioned Syrian refugees being given larger houses in the town at the expense of those on the council housing register. Preparations are well under way to welcome up to 24 Syrian refugees, currently living in Beirut, to Wishaw.
However, speaking at a meeting of Coltness Community Council, Councillor Sam Love welcomed the move but believes handing the refugees houses, rather than maisonettes or flats, could provoke anger among locals struggling to move into larger council homes.
Councillor Love said: “Bringing Syrian families to Wishaw is a good thing.
“It’s fantastic we are helping these people who have seen things we could not imagine.
“However, these families are moving into houses with front and back doors and gardens.
“I can see councillors getting a lot of flack about this and I think it could cause problems for local councillors.
“We want to help these people and we need to help them but they can’t be jumping into these homes.”
The Independent Alliance member added: “Some people on the housing register are waiting 10 to 15 years for a house with a front and back garden.
“One hundred per cent of our homes in North Lanarkshire meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard whether it be a maisonette, homes in a tower block or flat.
“I’ve spoken to other councillors and they agree with me.
“These refugees deserve to be here after what they have went through but we are going to have people coming to us who have been waiting on a house for their kids for years asking why they can’t get one.”
North Lanarkshire Council will resettle 180 Syrian refugees in the period 2015-2020, as part of the UK Government’s Syrian Resettlement Programme.
Last year, the United Nations identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance with over 4.8 million being refugees outside of Syria.
The UK Government plans to accept 20,000 refugees over a period of five years taken from refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.
Councillor Pat O’Rourke, Convener of the Syrian Resettlement Programme, said: “North Lanarkshire is proud to be fully supporting the Syrian Resettlement Programme, which provides a safe and secure future for some of the most vulnerable people in the world.
“These refugees meet the vulnerable criteria, which has been set down by the British Government, due to them suffering from very complex health issues.
“The properties which were available to us in Wishaw have been matched to the requirements of the six families arriving and are appropriate to their complex health needs.
“Each year in North Lanarkshire around 3000 properties become available to rent.
“Six hundred of these are in the Wishaw area which is the highest number of available properties in any of our localities.
“It saddens me that some would seek to make political capital from a desperate situation.”
Motherwell and Wishaw MP Marion Fellows added: “I am delighted that Wishaw will be welcoming six new families as part of North Lanarkshire’s Syrian Refugee resettlement programme.
“I look forward to ensuring that they are given a warm welcome into the constituency and feel safe and stable in their new communities.
“If any community groups, charities or organisation want further information as to how they too can offer support please get in touch.”