A MINIMUM of 19 refugees fleeing war-torn countries are to be welcomed to settle in Craven over the next four years.

The scheme is part of a North Yorkshire-wide global resettlement project and which incorporates the Syrian Resettlement Programme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme which concludes this year.

The latest project will see the government aim to resettle 5,000 refugees nationally with a grant provided to local authorities.

Of this number, 200 will come to the county with Craven’s ‘share’ being 19 individuals.

At last week’s Craven District Council policy committee meeting, chairman Cllr Richard Foster said the recommendation was to accept a ‘maximum of 19 people’ but wanted to change that to ‘minimum’.

“We will also use the private sector first in order to fulfil our quota,” he said, adding that the figures would equate to around five households.

Councillor David Ireton queried how that figure was arrived at.

“That is less than two (households) per year. Is that sufficient to help these people?” he asked.

He added: “These people will come with children to help keep our schools open.”

Cllr Foster said it was North Yorkshire County Council who had agreed the figure for Craven.

“It’s up to us how we deliver it,” he said.

The committee felt the district could offer more resettlement opportunities but was conscious the quota of 200 had been divided almost equally between five North Yorkshire districts and they didn’t want to open themselves up to being in a position to have to take them all.

Councillor Simon Myers said he thought just 200 for the county was a ‘pathetic’ figure given the area was large and prosperous.

“It is North Yorkshire County Council’s formula and (the scheme of 19 people) is the way county is dividing things up, but we could say we are prepared to take more,” he suggested.

Cllr Foster also reminded members that the district had people on housing waiting lists for a long time and if they saw lots of people from elsewhere coming in and being offered homes, they may not be too happy about it.

However, the consensus of opinion was that Craven was openly offering help to people in distress and agreed to support the scheme.

Councillor Peter Madeley added: “I am sure the people of Craven will make people feel welcome and 19 people is a small amount.”