Mione Goldspink, Catherine Henderson, Maria Henriksson-Bell and Katie Seaton attended the East Herts Council this meeting so that I could formally question the Council Leader about the VPR scheme in East Herts. Here was what Katie asked Cllr Linda Haysey:
'I am on the steering group of the community network Herts Welcomes Syrian Families, which formed to encourage Hertfordshire councils to participate in the government's Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme for Syrian nationals. On behalf of our network, how does East Herts Council intend to implement the scheme locally, what is the most optimistic time scale possible for bringing the first family here and what can our network can do to support the council practically to achieve this?'
Her reply was positive. EH will participate. They don't hold housing stock, but the Housing Associations that do are poised to offer accommodation when requested.
Hertfordshire County Council has signed up to the agreement reached between Local Authorities in our region regarding distribution of refugees.
She intimated that the government is prepared to fund any additional needs for refugee support beyond the first year where necessary, which is really good news, as it was one of the major sticking points for our strapped-for-cash Local Authorities.
With regards to timescales, Cllr. Haysey couldn't answer that bit, because it will depend on when the government sends people to us. It seems that refugees will be sent to areas where there are already refugees living nearby first.
The council are happy to communicate directly with us as this progresses and commended us on our work.
So that's three councils officially on board now.