LBWF Leader Chris Robbins and Syrian refugees: the same old same old

Back in October 2015, the Leader of LBWF, Cllr. Chris Robbins, went public with a pledge to house Syrian refugees. The Waltham Forest Guardian story started with his picture in large format –

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– and then included the following specifics:

‘Ten refugee families fleeing Syria will be housed in Waltham Forest…The council have promised to provide decent homes “wherever possible” and provide access to health care, education and local job opportunities’.

Many readers no doubt reasonably concluded that this humanitarian gesture was immanent, and attributed credit to Cllr. Robbins for his concern.

So what has happened subsequently? Are ten families fleeing terror now happily living amongst us?

Unfortunately not.

A recent LBWF statement reads as follows:

‘Waltham Forest have not taken in refugees via the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme in its current form. As a Council we have indicated we intend to house ten Syrian refugee families ahead of 2020, provided that Government allocate adequate funding to allow us to do this. We are working closely with the Greater London Authority, Mayor of London’s Office and other London Boroughs to take in refugees under the revised Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme.

Following a summit of London Leaders chaired by the London Mayor at City Hall in February, it is now our intention to work with the LGA and Mayor of London’s office to develop a London-wide approach to housing refugees in the city. Through this approach we will ensure a regional London approach to resettlement which draws in contributions from communities and the voluntary and private sectors. This will be enabled by a new, enhanced funding offer from Government, to enable London boroughs to play a role in resettlement of Syrian refugees’.

Stripping out the jargon, evasion, and responsibility-shifting, the truth is clear.

As a  Labour member with a conscience puts it to me: ‘It’s 10 families by 2020, provided funding is available. By then, presumably, most Syrians will be dead, so may not need accommodation’.

And Cllr. Robbins? He should check out the definition of ‘virtue signalling’.