Please find an unedited public response from Councillor ALan Jarrett to Councillor Vince Maple regarding the resettling of Afghan families in Medway.
Dear Councillor Maple,
Your recent letter and interview on Radio Kent has astounded me. The Leader of Medway
Labour Group suggesting we deprioritise Medway residents currently on our housing waiting
list (1624 of them), who have been waiting a long time for housing, in favour of taking in
dozens of Afghan families is for me unacceptable.
Medway Council has done its bit in responding to this crisis. Currently only about one third of
the 354 Councils in England have agreed to support and resettle Afghan refugees is not good
enough and for you to suggest that Medway takes up the slack is preposterous.
These families have stood by our sides and helped us in Afghanistan when we needed the
support and we have sympathy and compassion for them as much as the next authority, so to
suggest we aren’t supporting this effort is plainly wrong. I believe your stance is nothing more
than political opportunism of which you should be ashamed.
You also raised the issue of encouraging Medway residents to put themselves forward to
support these families and I’m pleased to say that the response from Medway residents in this
regard has been fantastic. We need to work with the families to understand what it is they
actually need, so that we do not overwhelm them, and in this respect, we will liaise with the
groups offering support appropriately.
I struggle to understand your apparent point of view that Medway residents are not as
important as Afghan families. We are Medway Council and we represent the needs of
Medway. Where we can support others, we will, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of supporting
local residents who need us to help them.
I leave you to explain to those 1,624 families on our housing waiting list why their needs are
not important to Medway Labour.
Due to the importance of this issue, I shall be posting this letter on social and other media.
Councillor Alan Jarrett