Lambeth town hall in Brixton

Lambeth Labour councillors open borough further to refugees

Lambeth Labour councillors reconfirmed their commitment to ensuring Lambeth is a safe place for refugees to call home on the 21st July.

Councillors passed a motion proposed by Labour at Lambeth Full Council celebrating the large contribution that refugees make to the borough. 

Additionally the motion recognises the work of Lambeth Council and its partners, including the South London Refugee Association and local NHS.

It also celebrates those in Lambeth’s voluntary sector and residents who have all worked together to support the 28 families of Syrian, Iraqi, and Sudanese backgrounds welcomed to the borough since 2016.

Councillor Martin Tiedemann, who proposed the motion, said: “I’m proud that Lambeth has recommitted itself to be a place that welcomes refugees and migrants, offering sanctuary to those who need it and has underlined our refusal to work with the Tories’ ‘hostile environment’.

“While the Conservatives have halted support for child refugees, left thousands of European citizens in limbo and cut aid to the poorest around the world, Lambeth Labour is working to ensure undocumented migrants have access to vaccines and offering children sanctuary from conflict, climate change and Covid.”

Outside of the celebrations, councillors acknowledged the work still to be done, and that the issues of COVID-19 and the climate crisis will continue to drive people to seek sanctuary in the UK.

The motion asks for the re-establishment of safe and legal routes, including the re-opening of the Dubs Scheme, and recommits Lambeth to offering unaccompanied child refugees a home.

Lambeth Labour councillors are calling for a fairer, more compassionate system that recognises the contribution that people from overseas have made to our country.   

Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, said: “Lambeth remains a diverse welcoming and tolerant borough, aware of the terrible conflicts which forces families to flee their homes in fear, seeking asylum a safe place to call home. 

“We will recognise their trauma and not question their mode of travel. We will continue to provide support, holding up our commitment to unaccompanied child asylum seekers.”

Councillor Tim Briggs, Conservative councillor for Clapham Common ward, rebutted saying that the ‘hostile environment’ pre-exists the current Conservative government, and was present throughout Labour’s time in power.

Briggs added: “The point about immigration is that someone has to make really unpleasant decisions about who can stay and who has to leave. We cannot open our doors to the whole world even though we would like to.

“I am extremely proud of Lambeth as a very diverse place, we have all sorts of people from all different parts of the world, and we have got a proud history of looking after them, including undocumented migrants.

“It’s important that we take our fair share of children that come from abroad, and undocumented migrants, but there has to be a balance.”

The Home Office did not respond to comment before time of publication.

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