Published Friday, 11th September 2015

Cllr Victor Broad spoke at the recent Executive Committee meeting about the Council's recent pledge to help Syrian refugees.

Cllr Victor Broad, the Leader of the Council, delivered the following speech at the meeting of the Council's Executive Committee on Thursday 10 September. His speech relates to Reigate & Banstead's offer to take in Syrian refugees which was announced earlier this week.

"Last week, I listened to a radio interview with a tearful Syrian teacher of English. She was taking her family of three daughters across Europe having escaped the terrible civil war in Syria. A little later the world’s media reported the shocking image of young Alan Kurdi, who died trying to reach Greece. 

"The Syrian refugee crisis is very real, and of a scale that we have not seen in decades.  Hundreds are risking their lives each week to reach safety.  I raised the matter with the Chief Executive, as I felt that this situation was going to get worse and I suggested that we should explore ways in which we could help and I asked for a letter to be drafted to the Prime Minister.

"As expected the situation gathered momentum, and on Monday after having consulted with the Portfolio Holder for Housing and the Group Leader and our local MP Crispin Blunt, I authorised its sending. I wrote to the Prime Minister offering Reigate & Banstead’s assistance in working with him in finding homes, to support his offer to help. All of you should have by now received a copy of this letter. We are offering to take in a number of affected families, to house and provide support to them in rebuilding their lives and in finding work.

"The Government announced this week that the UK would increase the number of refugees from Syria. We are a very prosperous area and I believe we must support the Government as we help those in greatest need of humanitarian aid and attempt to stem the tide of those risking their lives to enter Europe.

"I noted in the Surrey Mirror today that one of our councillors is reported as having criticised me and suggested that I did not consult all councillors before making the offer. This was interpreted as being an undemocratic action on my part.  As Leader, it is my duty to do just that, exercise leadership and take decisions when they are necessary. If it was the intention of this councillor to make a cheap political point at my expense then I have to say, this does not reflect the attitude of all of the councillors I have consulted.

"The situation I have responded to is one of humanity, not procedure or accountancy. I understand there have been numerous responses from the public offering support and help. This in my view reflects the decency and compassion I would expect from the Residents of Reigate and Banstead."

You can watch a webcast of Cllr Broad's speech on our website.