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Vale Council Leader Asks Private Landlords To Come Forward For Afghan Refugees

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council Leader, Councillor Neil Moore has, in an interview with Bro Radio's Vale This Week, asked private landlords in the county to come forward and contact the council should they have a suitable property to house refugees coming over from Afghanistan.

The Council Leader spoke to The Vale This Week's Dan Moffat about the crisis in Afghanistan right now, expressing the Council's sympathies for both the civilians and members of the armed forces who were injured and killed in the attack at Kabul Airport last week, while also conveying his and the council's shock at the fall of the Afghan government.

Additionally, Councillor Moore discussed the Council's plans to offer refuge for up to two families from Afghanistan, and the intricacies, logistics, and practical process involved with this.

Addressing a question from Dan Moffat, of the Vale This Week, regarding the state of play in terms of preparations for housing these families, Councillor Moore said:

"We are currently exploring all the options and that includes reaching out to private landlords - to be honest, we've worked with them closely over the past few years across the other refugee schemes, which we're still embarking upon.

"In terms of that, what I'd like to do is to take this opportunity here as well to ask any other Rent Smart accredited landlords with 3 or 4 bedroom homes, that may be available for this purpose, to contact the council because, clearly, some of the families that are coming - as you say, we're only having two - but sometimes they're larger families because we do have the responsibility to make sure that people are suitably housed in affordable accommodation.

"And this is going to be a major challenge for us in the Vale of Glamorgan, in what is, particularly in the Vale, a fiercely competitive housing market, however, that challenge is not new to us, and I have every confidence that we will be able to secure appropriate housing for this scheme."

When probed as to whether an outpouring of support from private landlords in the Vale could lead to an increase in the number of families the council offers refuge to, Councillor Moore said:

"It's a possibility, I think you couldn't rule anything out. If private landlords are happy to extend their properties for that purpose, and we can work in tandem with the UK Government and the Welsh Local Government Association, who are helping to coordinate this too, but primarily, we're working with Cardiff as our regional partner to examine whether we have the properties and where we have the properties.

"But ultimately, to be honest, the main priority is affordability, and we also have to consider, because people could come up and offer opportunities, but really, the properties need to have access to amenities and services, like health, education and, actually, integration support too, that's clear, so the focus probably would be on the larger towns, which are probably better placed to meet the needs of those vulnerable people, as we've done in the past with some of the Syrian refugees, to be honest.

"The simple answer is, if people are coming forward, we would look at all opportunities, but I'm not saying we would be happy to take, or prepared to take anybody at any cost because, clearly, we have to meet the needs and the criteria that we put upon it."

Finally, answering the question of whether the offer of refuge for circa 40 families across Wales from its 22 local authorities was sufficient in his personal view, given the scale of the crisis in Afghanistan, the Vale's Council Leader said:

"Well, I think that one of the problems that we don't actually know is what the scale actually is. At the moment, I think you're right, I think it's 30 or 40 that have been offered across Wales.

"Each local authority will be doing everything possible to offer accommodation, some will be able to pledge more and help others depending on local pressures - the availability of housing, as I said earlier - but it is important to realise and to remember this figure only represents the immediate offers of accommodation, and further offers, including from the Vale, may follow as plans progress, so yeah, it's a possibility we could have more, but I'm not saying that at this stage."

Listen Again: Vale This Week's full interview with Councillor Neil Moore:

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