Cllr Gail Engert has written an article for the local Ham and High Broadway newspaper on why Haringey Labour needs to do more to support refugees.
Haringey Labour must do more to help refugees
A few weeks ago thousands of people gathered together at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth to hear Tim Farron give his first conference speech as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.
I watched his speech and was delighted to hear Tim Farron speak passionately about the plight of refugees and the Conservative Government’s inadequate response to the crisis. As I sat there with fellow members of the party from every part of the country and listened to Tim speak I was reminded why I became a Liberal Democrat in the first place.
‘to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals.’ (Liberal Democrat constitution)
Haringey’s Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners are just as committed as Tim Farron to doing what we can to create that free and open society which welcomes those who need a safe home from war and persecution.
Locally, we have argued that Haringey Council should be doing more to help with the refugee crisis. I have written to the Labour leader of the council calling on her to make it clear how many refugee families the borough will take. Camden have already done this. After much pressure, the Conservative Government has also confirmed money will be available for councils who take in refugees.
So, I was disappointed when I read the Labour Leader’s response to my letter, despite everything there was still no commitment to how many families the borough will take in. Given that government funding is now available and the news that Labour-run Haringey has spent £86,000 on re-branding, I do not think this response is good enough.
The council owns many buildings in the borough that could be used to house refugees. I also cannot accept the argument that there is not enough money in the council coffers to help refugees in need when time and time again we see taxpayers’ money spent on expensive consultants, advertising and re-branding.
For me this is a question of priorities what does Haringey Labour really care about? Presenting a new brand, employing consultants or supporting those in need?
For Haringey Liberal Democrats the priorities are clear, we believe your council tax money should be spent on services for local people and helping those in need. If not, we will not achieve a fair, free and open society.
Cllr Gail Engert
Haringey Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition