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Chorley's welcome for Syrian refugees on hold

Only one Syrian family has so far been given a date to come to Chorley.
Only one Syrian family has so far been given a date to come to Chorley.
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The arrival of Syrian refugee families in Chorley has been slower than originally expected.

Earlier this year, the district council announced that it was expecting to house ten families as part the government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS).

A plan was approved to purchase the required number of properties in the borough at a cost of just under £1.7m.

But at the latest meeting of Chorley’s full council, Jane Fitzsimmons, the Member for Housing, said a date for only one family had been confirmed so far- with another four on the way.

“Originally, the deadline was July, but that has now been put back to September,” she said. “We have already purchased one property, so we know we’ll have the keys ready for that family [in time].”

The meeting also heard that the authority had made an offer on a second house in the borough and was considering three other potential locations.

“We’re making progress and we’re very confident that we will be able to house these families,” Cllr Fitzsimmons added.

Leader of the Labour-run authority, Alistair Bradley, said members whose wards were due to host refugee families had been advised.

The UK is due to welcome 20,000 Syrians displaced by the on-going conflict in the country by 2020, as part of the government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. It was announced in February that the target had passed the halfway point.

Chorley Council voted back in May to buy ten houses in the borough as part of its commitment to the scheme.

At the time, Conservative opposition leader, Alan Cullens, called for the authority to rent any properties which were needed and also expressed concern over the town centre location of some of the proposed houses.

But the council said its plan offered the best the opportunity for the families to be supported and integrated into the community, with access to local services and education.

The council also claimed that the houses would add to its asset base once the resettlement programme was complete.