Afghan refugees could be ‘priced out’ of living in Central Bedfordshire says councillor as local authority looks for accommodation for families

At the meeting it was heard that Afghan refugees could be left lifeless in central Bedfordshire and have to move to abandoned properties in the ‘Wild Lands of the North’.

Two different schemes aim to resettle Afghans arriving in this country after unrest in their home country, according to Charlotte Gurney of the housing team at the Central Bedfordshire Council.

The initial settlement process for those “who work with the British Army often in dangerous combat situations” began in April, she told CBC’s Welfare, Health and Housing Committee and Audit Committee.

Afghan refugees await treatment after arriving on an evacuation flight from Afghanistan at Heathrow Airport.

 

“It was a silent, thoughtful, orchestrated plan to move 5,000 people,” she explained.

“CBC has been working with the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense since the beginning of June in the settlement of people under this program and has hosted two families.

“There were 2,000 people between April and August 15, and then another 15,000 people moved from August 15 to 31 due to the riots.”

The second resettlement plan is expected to accommodate 20,000 people over five years, although it is not yet finished.

Gurney said the government has a contract with Novotel. “There are 74 hotels in the contract, of which 54 are in full use at the end of August.

“We contacted Luton and Milton Keynes, but basically medical attention was needed.

“The next step is to build bridges in the lodgings, which are government-regulated hotels where families are evaluated based on their long-term needs.

“As a local authority, we are actively looking for accommodation. It all comes down to commuting, whether they have a family in the area, their work and educational needs, as if there are school places available.”

There are about 100 beds ready for installation each week across the country, in a variety of family needs from one to seven rooms.

“In this area, we have not chosen larger rooms because you have to consider long-term affordability,” Gurney added.

“Although there is currently government funding, they may not be able to afford the larger bedroom as they move forward.

“This may not be practical in the south east of England. They may need to find other places for larger families where they can afford it.

“We held a meeting with the government on October 14 when we got more information about the plan.

“The people we are currently working with speak English, are generally well educated and are likely to leave for work shortly after coming here.

“It will be very different with the second scheme and it may be difficult for us to resist.”

“Thousands of people were shocked that things fell apart so quickly,” said Mark Versaillion, a member of the Heath and Rich board of governors, who chairs the committee.

“It all comes down to what we think is appropriate for us to volunteer to help. I have been struck by the negativity and positivity of people in our communities.

“Unfortunately, some unpleasant aspects of human nature have emerged. But the vast majority of people are more thoughtful, sensitive and intelligent.”

“The truth for me is that we don’t have homes to help out,” said Paul Duckett, a member of the Ambethel Conservative Council.

“We don’t have enough here to live in central Bedfordshire, let alone anyone else. How can we help?” Order.

“Can we roll out houses with seven or eight rooms for the people or will we send them to the wilds of the North, where they have large abandoned properties, that don’t cost a lot of money?

“Usually when you do that, you create ghettos for people,” he warned. “He points the finger at our poor performance in social housing construction over the past 40 to 50 years as a society.”

Ms. Gurney responded, “I am not going to deny that we are going through a national housing crisis. We are looking for properties in the private rental market. These are generally re-advertised houses.”