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Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's mayoral candidates on refugees

posted 23 Apr 2017, 07:53 by Leonie Anna Mueck   [ updated 25 Apr 2017, 05:59 ]

On 4 May, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will elect a Mayor -- a first for the region. While the Mayor will not be directly responsible for resettlement refugees, asylum seekers or unaccompanied child refugees, s/he will set the scene for many things that affect refugees such as housing provisions, skills and apprenticeships, and transport. In addition, the Mayor could play an important coordinating role for different programs across the region. Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign wants to make sure that refugees are on the top of the candidates' minds and hence asked the candidates three questions.* Below are the replies that we received. We hope they help you in making a decision on who to vote for!

Rod Cantrill, Liberal Democrats

1) What, in your opinion, should be Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's role in helping refugees during this time of crisis?
I believe that refugees should be welcomed and encouraged to settle in the area - they have a lot to offer to enhance the rich cultural diversity of the region.
2) If you get elected, what will be your action points with respect to refugees and asylum seekers?
I believe the mayor should be a strong voice for everyone across the region - including refugees.  Although the devolved legislation does not specify this specifically - I believe the mayor can play an important role in coordinating how the various local authorities can help refugees - particularly on provision of housing
3) Which person with a refugee background do you find inspiring and why?
Yusra Mardini, a refugee from Syria who swam in the Olympics - an inspiration to everyone.



Julie Howell, Green Party

1) What, in your opinion, should be Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's role in helping refugees during this time of crisis?

The big picture with refugee housing for Syrian families in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is that the market rates in Cambridge are so much more expensive than the local authority can pay. It requires one of two things:

- a private landlord willing to take a huge cut on their income from the property

- a local authority willing to dedicate housing to refugees (and bump them to the front of the list)

Outside the city there is cheaper housing, but 

- in some of these locations it can often be too far for the city council support workers to travel

- some areas are just politically not very welcoming, and it could put refugees in danger if they lived there. 

So the mayor needs to:

-    Consider where in the region to house refugees, so that they are safe, so they can travel to work easily, and so that they live in communities where they feel settled and secure.

-   Ensure that Cambridge and Peterborough take their share of refugees. This doesn't mean taking a similar number to other counties in the UK because the UK is not doing its share to begin with. It means taking a number similar to the number taken by other counties who have really made an effort to do so, in regions of a comparable size.

2) If you get elected, what will be your action points with respect to refugees and asylum seekers?

Access to appropriate housing, access to transport, access to education, access to jobs.

When you have all of the above, refugees and asylum seekers can begin to become part of our communities.

3) Which person with a refugee background do you find inspiring and why?

Lucian Freud. Imagine how poorer we would all be spiritually and culturally, if the artistic contribution of the world’s refugees was prevented, destroyed or lost.


James Palmer, Conservatives

1) What, in your opinion, should be Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's role in helping refugees during this time of crisis?

2) If you get elected, what will be your action points with respect to refugees and asylum seekers?
The Mayor will not have decision making powers over settling refugees in Cambridgeshire. This responsibility will still lie with local councils.  As leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council we have tried to work with Government to house refugees in Ministry owned housing in Ely. Unfortunately ECDC do not own any housing stock. One family has been housed in Ely.
3) Which person with a refugee background do you find inspiring and why?
I admire anyone who moves to a new country and starts afresh. There are many thousands of examples and I wouldn't like to single out one.


Kevin Price, Labour Party

1) What, in your opinion, should be Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's role in helping refugees during this time of crisis?

2) If you get elected, what will be your action points with respect to refugees and asylum seekers?
There is some good work already across the Combined Authority area in regard to refugees and asylum seekers. Peterborough is a dispersal centre and Cambridge City Council has committed to taking 100 refugees with many already settled. Cambridge is also a City of Sanctuary. Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council are looking after well over 100 unaccompanied child refugees. I will use the 2016 Cambridgeshire Migrant and Refugee Joint Strategic Needs Assessment to set priorities for accommodation and support needs for migrants and refugees as well as exploring the potential for more dispersal centres across the Combined Authority area. The Combined Authority is an opportunity to ensure a cohesive and co-ordinated approach across the area to taking in and supporting the needs of migrants and refugees. As Mayor I will also make the case to government for taking in more refugees and in particular fulfilling the promises made by the government in the Dubs Amendment, on which it has failed so badly.
3) Which person with a refugee background do you find inspiring and why?
It is not a single person, but the story of the 2016 Rio Refugee Olympic Team. It is very inspiring and each individual team member had personal stories which I followed with great interest before and during the Olympics. I also thought it was very good that the Olympic flame was carried through a refugee camp in Greece during the torch relay.


*We asked Paul Bullen (UKIP) and Peter Dawe (Independent) as well but they did not reply. We could not find an up-to-date email address from Stephen Goldspink (English Democrats).

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