Councillors call for refugees to be put up in empty Suffolk holiday homes

Two councillors have called for Ukrainian refugees to be housed in Suffolk holiday homes.

Two councillors have called for Ukrainian refugees to be housed in Suffolk holiday homes. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Councillors have called for empty properties and holiday homes in Suffolk to be made available for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

Efforts are being made across the country for homes to take in Ukrainian nationals arriving in the UK.

But suggestions have also come forward from some local councillors for caravan parks, second homes and empty holiday let properties to be made available for refugees on a short term basis.

Peter Byatt, leader of East Suffolk Council’s Labour group has written to the secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, as well as local MPs Peter Aldous and Therese Coffey, and Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour contingent at East Suffolk Council and councillor for Kirkley and Pakefield

Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour contingent at East Suffolk Council and councillor for Kirkley and Pakefield - Credit: MAXINE CLARKE/EAST SUFFOLK LABOUR

“Along the coastline of Suffolk, and around much of the United Kingdom, there are holiday sites where there are currently thousands of empty caravans. All of them will be kitted out with all mod-cons,” Cllr Byatt said.

“Is it possible for the government and charities that have raised substantial funds to rent these to provide accommodation for refugee families?

“That way, no business would suffer financially – in fact, it may well benefit some. In addition, it would help refugees if they could be in contact with others from home, and would enable local authorities to focus essential support for them.

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“This would essentially be temporary, as in the long-term I am sure that people will want to return to the Ukraine once matters have returned to normal.”

Conservative county councillor Christopher Hudson said there were more than 600,000 empty homes across the UK that could be used for those in need.

Christopher Hudson, Conservative member for Belstead Brook at Suffolk County Council.

Christopher Hudson, Conservative member for Belstead Brook at Suffolk County Council. - Credit: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

“I am 110% behind using empty homes or empty mobile homes,” he said.

“I believe it would be totally wicked to leave them vacant when we have got a crying need – for people in this country and for people from Afghanistan and Ukraine and elsewhere.

“We have really got to answer this call because British people are prepared to show a lot of goodwill.”
Earlier this week the government announced the Homes for Ukraine scheme where people willing to offer a room for a refugee were urged to come forward and register as a sponsor.

It is understood more than 130,000 people have offered their services, with hopes of settling refugees next week.

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