On Tuesday night 19th April 2022, at a meeting of the Full Council of Epsom and Ewell Borough, the Council debated and passed a motion titled “Stand Together with Ukraine”. It was a motion setting out to:
a) Note the Commitments already made by the Government to house displaced Ukrainian families.
b) Utilise the support funding provided by the Government to meet the welfare and care needs of Ukrainian families arriving in the borough via the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
c) Signpost those residents who house people displaced by this act of aggression to the information and support they are seeking.
Cllr Alex Coley (Residents Association – Ruxley Ward), proposing the motion, stated: “In these worst of times for the Ukrainian people, we have seen the best of people in our Borough, who’ve responded with an outpouring of kindness and generosity.” The motion was unanimously passed by the Chamber, with one amendment (rejected) being submitted by Labour Party Councillors, Kate Chinn and Debbie Monksfield of Court Ward.
The amendment called on the Government to take in more Ukrainian refugees, to step up its humanitarian obligations and provide more support to European countries, who are taking the majority of refugees. Councillor Chinn said, “The government has been dragging its feet on the biggest refugee crisis in a decade.” The reception was frosty, with members describing it as “Confusing” and “Political point-scoring”. Cllr Liz Frost (Residents Association – Woodcote Ward) stated her uneasiness, telling the Council more leniency in refugee policy could lead to “terrorists” finding easier pathways into the UK. Cllr Coley responded by stating that the aims of the amendment were better addressed to the Home Affairs House of Commons Select committee who could “look into some of the things that are happening that perhaps should be done in a fairer and more effective way”, concluding that as a Borough Council, it isn’t their place to scrutinise Government policy.
The motion is an important message to Ukrainian citizens, some of whom will be relocating to Epsom under the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, and an important reassurance of solidarity for Ukrainians already living in Epsom and Ewell, and beyond.
If you’re local to Epsom, and you’d like to help during the Ukraine Crisis, please get in contact with Surrey Stands with Ukraine and the Epsom Refugee Network, two fantastic community charities that are doing excellent work for disenfranchised people.
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