In response to the recent refugee crisis unfolding across Europe and calls for the UK to take more refugees Ealing Labour have issued the following statement:
"We have all seen the terrible images of the refugee crisis currently unfolding all around Europe and further afield. It is in times like this that politicians at all levels must let our humanitarian instincts come to the fore. We must do what we can to help by both showing moral leadership and demanding action and also by taking practical steps with whatever resources we are responsible for. Our position in Ealing Labour is unequivocal, we stand ready to give whatever assistance we can to refugees fleeing persecution and conflict. We call on all other politicians at all levels in the UK to do the same.
Cllr Julian Bell leader of the Ealing Labour group stated on the BBC that as a council we stood ready to support any government scheme to help refugees. We are working alongside other local councils, government departments and the mayor of London to work out the details of how we can help.
Whilst as local councillors we are ready to help we must make it clear that immigration is the responsibility of central government. It is only the Government that has the authority to allow people into the country. It is only the government that can decide on whether any person qualifies as a refugee and it is only the government that has the resources necessary to house refugees and support them to get their lives back on track.
As Labour councillors we stand ready to offer whatever assistance is necessary but our main role at the moment is to encourage the Government to respond to this crisis by showing the moral leadership which we believe defines Britain. As a country we have a proud tradition of providing shelter to those in need and we must embrace that tradition in this current crisis.
We often risk taking the freedom and security we enjoy for granted. However, it is the responsibility of everyone in this country to make our voices heard and demonstrate that we believe everyone should enjoy these freedoms and we stand ready to assist those that don’t."
Ealing council has unanimously agreed a motion proposed by Ealing Labour leader Cllr Julian Bell. It stated the council's position on the crisis and was worded as follows:
Council notes the current refugee crisis unfolding across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
This council believes that those who enjoy the freedom and security provided by a safe democratic state have a duty to help those who have to flee their homes as a result of conflict or persecution.
Council extends it sympathies and condolences to all those who have perished trying to reach freedom and safety during the current crisis.
This Council resolves to give help and practical assistance to alleviate the ongoing refugee crisis.
Council welcomes the spontaneous offers of help and aid by many local residents and faith groups as well as the work that local groups have been doing to aid refugee groups. This commitment to humanitarianism highlights the best of our borough.
The council resolves to work in partnership with the Government, the mayor of London and other councils to create a workable programme of aid and resettlement for refugees.
Council calls on central government to recognise that whilst the council is willing to help and has skills expertise and facilities that would be helpful we do not have the financial resources to provide the amount of aid required. As a borough we are also struggling to find housing to respond to the increase in homelessness, this will add even greater demand and needs to be recognised by the Government. As well as this Ealing has the highest Syrian population in the UK. In the years ahead we will need support to meet the understandable desire of refugees to move to an area with an existing Syrian diaspora, especially once the initial year of support has expired but the need for social services help continues.
Council calls on the Government to outline how its scheme will work in practise as well as making it clear how councils will be able to access the finances needed to make the scheme sustainable.