Two weeks ago, Wycombe Labour sent an open letter (see blog below) to Steve Baker, MP, and the Leaders of BCC and WDC calling on them to offer a generous humanitarian hand of assistance to the refugees of Syria. A copy of the letter was published in the Bucks Free Press on 11 Sept. See the deeply disappointing response and what we say.
Steve Baker said nothing - no response, not even an acknowledgement.
The Leader of BCC said "Buckinghamshire County Council will work with the government, and with colleagues in local District Councils, following the recent announcement to take 20,000 migrants into the UK by 2020. This should however be matched with the resources to deliver the necessary extra support."
The Leader of WDC said "The world can see that this is a humanitarian crisis and thousands of people urgently need help. This is a crisis which has implications on an international, national and ultimately comes down to a local level. The Government are proposing that Britain should resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years – straight from the camps in the Middle East – to discourage refugees from taking the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
Within Wycombe district we have a proud tradition of tolerance and of welcoming people of many different nationalities who have settled here and are an integral part of our local community. Our priority is always to provide services and housing for our local residents, but in these extraordinary circumstances we would seek to play our part and offer practical help.
As yet the role local government will need to play and the role Wycombe District Council specifically will play is not defined so we are not yet in a position to commit to numbers.
It’s not just about providing homes for people to live in, it’s also making sure that at a local level we can help them by providing the health, education and social support they will need."
David Williams QC, Wycombe Labour's Parliamentary candidate for the 2015 general election, says
"Steve Baker seems to have nothing to say about one of the most devastating humanitarian crisis facing Europe in the last 70 years.
There are thousands of people in Wycombe who would like to help the Syrian refugees and thousands who are contributing with donations and time. But they are getting no leadership from their MP.
Steve Baker seems to have disappeared to Westminster to debate the finer details of the EU referendum. He seems consumed with his obsession to take the UK out of the EU to the exclusion of anything else. Does he care at all about the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Europe fleeing war and persecution? "
Councillor Rafiq Raja, Labour's Leader on Wycombe District Council, says
"At least the Leader of WDC recognises that there is a humanitarian crisis and that thousands of refugees need help. But no action from local Tory Councillors to help. They are all passively waiting for the Government to give them money and tell them what to do, whilst local individuals and groups are taking action.
Wycombe Tories are providing no help to the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Europe in case it encourages more to come. No help until the role of local authorities is defined. No help until everything is sorted out.
No generosity. No leadership. No humanity."