CRAVEN will welcome a minimum of 15 Afghan refugees after councillors welcomed the offer of a large family home by a private landlord.

It would be ‘churlish’ to turn down the offer of a six bedroom house in Skipton which had previously been used by Syrian refugees said the leader of Craven District Council Richard Foster.

Cllr Foster told yesterday evening's policy committee meeting Craven had its own homeless and those in need of housing, but it was right that they did what they could to help those who had fled Afghanistan.

Cllr Foster, who moved changing the recommendation before councillors from a ‘maximum’ of 15 people to a ‘minimum’ because it gave greater flexibility for families, said many of the refugees had helped British troops over the last 20 years.

He said: “We have been offered a six bedroom home and it would be churlish not to take it up, properties of this size do not fall out of the sky. The same property was offered to Syrian families and it was very useful.

“I would say we have a lot of local people who are in need of housing, but these people are coming from the traumatic scenes that we have all seen on the television.”

Cllr Simon Myers said the refugees had left a ‘crisis of unimaginable proportions’ and he wished them well.

He said: “I think most of us would like to do a lot more, (15) does not seem a huge number of people for a place like Craven; we do have our own homeless and people wanting housing, but this is a crisis of unimaginable proportions and we need to do what we can.”

Cllr Chris Rose said the refugees were fleeing something that none of the councillors had any experience of.

“I would not want us to hold back on any support for this, we should do whatever we can. The offer of this house is very generous and not to take it up would certainly be churlish,” she said.

By agreeing to take part in the Afghan Resettlement and Assistance Policy Scheme, the council will welcome around two to three families.

Over three years, the Government will provide £20,520 to cover the local authority welcome, integration offer and provision of services. In addition, for the first year only, there will be £4,500 per child to cover education provision, subject to their age; £850 to cover English language provision, for adults requiring such support, and £2,600 to cover health provision.

Earlier in the meeting, during the public session, Charles Dobson from the Skipton Refugee Support Group, urged councillors to agree to support the Afghan Resettlement and Assistance Policy Scheme.

Mr Dobson said Skipton had welcomed three refugee families from Syria and Iraq in the previous resettlement scheme and the support group had worked closely with the authorities to befriend the families, to introduce them to Yorkshire and help with language skills.