North West Wales

Conwy agrees to house asylum seekers under pilot scheme

A 'refugees welcome' march in Cardiff; the area is one of four that currently house asylum seekers in Wales Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A 'refugees welcome' march in Cardiff; the area is one of four that currently house asylum seekers in Wales

Conwy county has agreed to house asylum seekers as part of a new pilot scheme.

The decision has been made due to a "chronic shortage of accommodation" in Wales' four existing dispersal areas.

According to the latest UK Government figures, Cardiff, Swansea and Newport are all in the top ten of areas with the highest number of asylum seekers per head of population.

Conwy council said it "wants to play its role in assisting in the global humanitarian crisis."

The Home Office confirmed it was working with the authority, adding: "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection."

In March 2016, the Home Office wrote to all 18 Welsh local authorities who do not house asylum seekers to ask them to start taking people in.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said other local authorities in Wales were "in discussions" - but Conwy was the first to formally agree.

It said it welcomed Conwy's step, saying Welsh councils had "responded positively to the call to resettle Syrian refugees".

'Community impact'

The Home Office wants every local authority in the UK to house more asylum seekers.

Although the scheme is currently voluntary, the Home Office said it will become mandatory if not enough councils come forward.

Conwy council said the aim of the pilot would be to "investigate the feasibility of Conwy becoming a asylum dispersal area", and would look at the "logistical and resource implications and community impact."

It added: "Conwy wants to play its role in assisting in the global humanitarian crisis.

"The Home Office has consulted its housing providers in Wales, and have concluded that the current geography of asylum dispersal needs to be widened."

Asylum seeker accommodation provider Clearsprings will provide one house in Conwy for "small numbers" of asylum seekers.

The council will decide on the location, size and household type of the accommodation. The pilot will be evaluated before any further commitment.

In March 2016, Cardiff had one asylum seeker per 263 people, Swansea one per 272, and Newport one per 302.

The dispersal scheme is separate to the Home Office's programme to resettle Syrian refugees, which saw around 300 re-homed across all Welsh local authorities by the end of last year.

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