Louth Town Council agrees to offer support for refugees who fled Afghanistan

Louth town councillors have agreed to offer support to authorities and agencies which are assisting with offering sanctuary to Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban.

Afghanistan. (File image)
Afghanistan. (File image)

Councillor David Ford put forward a motion at last week’s meeting, in which the town council would “consider tasking the Town Clerk with looking at the most appropriate ways for the Town Council to assist in supporting other agencies such as East Lindsey, Platform Housing and the third sector to enable our town to give sanctuary, where needed, and support to those whose lives have been overturned and traumatised by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan”.

By way of introduction, Coun Ford shared several harrowing quotes from Afghans about life following the Taliban takeover, and asked his fellow councillors to consider offering the town council’s support to the relevant authorities and agencies where possible.

Coun Alex Cox opposed the motion, partly because “ELDC are already dealing with it”, not wishing to increase the Town Clerk’s workload, and because he felt it did not fall under the town council’s remit.

Coun Cox added that he could not support the motion as there are “over 500 families in East Lindsey” waiting to be assessed for housing, adding that it would be a “kick in the teeth” for local people.

Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders said the proposals were a “good, kind, human sentiment”, but said that the feedback she had received from the district council suggested that North Kesteven council had got the situation in hand, and she was not sure what support the town council could offer.

Several other councillors shared similar thoughts, with Coun George Horton stating: “While we can support and sympathise with the situation, I don’t really see what us as town councillors can do. There are many agencies that have really got involved, and I don’t think we can add to that.”

However, other councillors such as Coun Julia Simmons, said it would “very remiss and unempathetic” for the town council to “turn [their] backs” and refuse to offer support to other agencies, despite the town council’s limited remit.

Coun Andrew Leonard suggested Coun Makinson-Sanders could act as a conduit between ELDC and the Town Clerk, as she had offered to do so, to alleviate some of the workload for the Town Clerk.

He added: “In the realms of human kindness, why would we not, as a town council, if called upon, offer our sympathies and help if necessary?”

He added that he wouldn’t want the public to think of the town council as a “right wing anarchist group” if they were to reject the motion, prompting
Coun Cox to retort: “I don’t think it’s particularly right wing to put your own community before these people”, many of whom he claimed are “military age men”.

Following several amendments to the original proposal, the substantive motion was for: (1) the Town Clerk to write to ELDC to tell them the town council is available to assist if there is anything they can do; (2) to ask ELDC to send information to the town council which they can disseminate; (3) for the Town Clerk to liaise with Coun Makinson-Sanders on the issue going forward.

The motion was carried, with all councillors present supporting the amended motion except for Coun Cox who voted against it.