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Plans for "City of Sanctuary" status are untrue

Created on 09/03/2017 @ 07:00
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Newtown Town Council has denied it is attempting to seek City of Sanctuary status for refugees.

In a statement issued following speculation, the town council said it was not seeking such status but had merely asked its representative to "pursue lines of enquiry to seek more information."

Newtown is one of two towns selected in Powys to be a refuge for Syrian refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.

It has a representative on a support group set up by Powys County Council which is managing the relocation scheme in the county.

But there had been speculation that the town council was seeking a City of Sanctuary status.

Other town with such status are: Abergavenny, Cardiff, Hay, Brecon and Talgarth, Hiraeth Hope, Neath Port Talbot, Swansea, Valleys of Sanctuary and Wrexham.

However, the organisation behind City of Sanctuary nationwide, does say that Montgomeryshire is a City of Sanctuary, although it is not know who or what organisation in the area has applied for and achieved such status and what it is doing.

In a statement, the town council responded to recent comments. “The relocation programme is a UK Government obligation being administered in Powys by the County Council. The town council and other voluntary bodies were invited by the county council to be part of a support group to help families settle. It is represented on the group by Cllr Rina Clarke.
The work of the support group, which is administered by Powys Organisation of Voluntary Organisations, has not used any resource of the town council (staff or money).

“So far, the public support for the voluntary support group has been considerable, so if members of the public want to enquire further, they may wish to contact their local county councillor or the Portfolio Holder for Housing.”

It adds: "Despite what is reported in the recent press, Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town Council has not resolved to seek City of Sanctuary status. It has noted the idea, and merely asked Cllr Clarke to pursue lines of enquiry to seek more information.”

On the website, run by the City of Sanctuary movement, which has 90 such cities across the UK and Ireland, it says: "City of Sanctuary is a movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Our goal is to create a network of towns and cities throughout the country which are proud to be places of safety for people seeking sanctuary and helping them integrate into their local communities."

It adds: "The City of Sanctuary movement began in October 2005 in Sheffield. In September 2007, with the support of the City Council and over 70 local community organisations, Sheffield became the UK’s first ‘City of Sanctuary’ – a city that takes pride in the welcome it offers to people in need of safety.

"Since then, we have supported the development of over 90 City of Sanctuary initiatives in towns and cities across UK and Ireland. We believe the ‘sanctuary message’ of welcome and inclusion is needed in all spheres of society and as such we are committed to helping schools, universities, health and maternity services, theatres and arts centres, churches and other faith centres, sports, communities, businesses and homes become ‘places of sanctuary’. A key element of these ‘streams of sanctuary’ relationships is awareness raising, telling the true stories of refugees to those who never hear them.

"We enjoy close partnerships with all the major refugee organisations and we are committed to working with them to build a Sanctuary Alliance, a united voice to advocate for refugees in our nations and worldwide who have no voice of their own.

"Through creating a national network of Cities of Sanctuary, we aim to demonstrate the desire of people of goodwill throughout the country for a more just and humane approach to people seeking sanctuary in this country."

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