At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 22 October 2015, Sam Corcoran, Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, proposed the motion that
This Council would welcome an appropriate number of Syrian refugees to Cheshire East.
On 13 September 2016 Cheshire East Council has agreed to welcome 3-5 Syrian refugee families to Cheshire East.
Speaking at the Cabinet Meeting on 13 September, Sam Corcoran said, “I am pleased to see that the Council has finally reached the position where it is ready to put forward a recommendation to accept some Syrian refugee families and I would like to suggest 2 amendments. Firstly remove the words ‘maximum’ and ‘across the lifetime of the programme’ from recommendation ii. These words make the Council sound mean and negative, allowing “a MAXIMUM of 3-5 families”. Why not sound positive and open and say ‘welcoming 3-5 families to Cheshire East’.
Secondly, section 7.3.2 sets out the net cost of roughly £220,000 of accepting 52 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC). I would like this Cabinet meeting to agree, in principle and dependent on the government financial support outlined in the report, to accept 52 children (UASC). I remember when my Council resolution was first brought to Cabinet the next item on the agenda was the Tour of Britain and Cllr Gilbert said that the costs of staging the Tour of Britain were unquantifiable at that time. We committed to the Tour of Britain and made a success of it. I look forward in due course to knowing just how much it cost to have a stage of the Tour of Britain in Cheshire East, but if we were prepared to make that commitment to the Tour of Britain then surely we can make a commitment where the costs are known and quantified. We can change the lives of 52 children.
There is also a political reason for agreeing today, in principle and dependent on the government financial support outlined in the report, to accept 52 children (UASC). I strongly suspect that the government will in due course force this Council to accept 52 children (UASC). How is this Council going to look if it is forced to accept refugee children? Wouldn’t it be far better to agree it now so that when the government does make its announcement the Council will be able to say “Yes we voluntarily agreed to do that on 13 September”.
Speaking after the meeting Sam Corcoran said, “I am pleased that the Council has agreed to welcome 3-5 Syrian refugee families to Cheshire East. I think this is a good start. I am also pleased that the Cabinet accepted my amendment to remove the word ‘maximum’ when referring to a maximum of 3-5 families. I think 3-5 is the right number for now. In due course, if the initial programme works well, then I hope that the Council will welcome more Syrian refugee families as the need is great.
I am disappointed that the Conservative Council Cabinet were not willing to agree to accept 52 unaccompanied asylum seeking children, even in principle. I strongly expect that the government will in due case force the Council to look again at accepting unaccompanied children as it is grossly unfair for councils in the Kent area to have to deal with all the unaccompanied children reaching our shores.”