Torbay owners provide accommodation for Afghan refugees

Torbay Council has started sending offers for private accommodation to the Interior Ministry to help house Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban.

Last month, the council called on landlords to offer alternative properties to people arriving from Afghanistan.

This followed a divisive announcement that the council would not provide any of its own accommodation for refugees due to a housing crisis.

Council chief Steve Darling said the council was facing a “perfect storm”, but “had real huge challenges supporting our own people, let alone the Afghan refugees.”

He acknowledged that the situation in Afghanistan was “mortifying”, but said controversially that Torbay’s lack of ethnic diversity would complicate matters as the refugees would not have a sufficient support network once they arrived.

He argued that without it the council would “potentially put them in a state of failure.”

Cllr Darling’s position has been heavily criticized, including by some members of the ruling coalition itself.

But he was also praised by others who agreed that local people should be given priority for local housing.

As of Monday, September 6, at least 51 properties have been offered by private owners.

The council says that so far five of them have been sent to the Home Office for approval.

It is not yet clear when the Interior Ministry will associate the five properties with Afghan families.

Torbay council chief executive Anne-Marie Bond called the number of offers a “good answer”, adding: “Our community is showing up.”

Many of the 51 private properties are not yet ready or are not eligible for use due to their size, location or security concerns.

The council, which only wants properties large enough to house families, said it would assess the suitability of the accommodation as soon as possible.

Despite calls from some councilors and members of the public to do more, Torbay council is sticking to its decision not to provide social housing to people fleeing the Taliban.

He says he won’t change his position unless he receives a significant increase in government funding.

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