Row over Shropshire Council leader’s comments about foreign children
A councillor is calling for Shropshire Council’s leader to apologise over comments linking foreign children found in the back of a van to the authority’s financial difficulties.
The 10 children, who were found in March this year in Shrewsbury, were placed in Shropshire Council’s care.
Six adults found were taken into the care of Home Office immigration enforcement.
Council leader Peter Nutting said the unforeseen situation had cost the council more than £1 million and was one of the reasons why the council needed to save an extra £5 million by the end of this financial year.
However, Ludlow councillor Andy Boddington, said he had concerns about the council leader’s comments.
He said: “This was careless talk that could turn public attitudes against supporting vulnerable young people. It was also dangerous talk that could threaten the youngsters themselves.”
Councillor Boddington added that although Councillor Nutting had said he was not blaming the children for the council overspend, “his emphasis was on the costs”.
He added: “The same prominence was given in subsequent radio interviews with the council portfolio holder for children, Nicholas Bardsley, and Shrewsbury MP, Daniel Kawczynski.
“This is wrong. On the financial side, there is some doubt that this essential action to protect vulnerable children has cost Shropshire Council as much as £1 million.”There is a legitimate debate to be had between local government and Westminster on who picks up how much of the bill for refugees. But our main priority must be protecting vulnerable young people, wherever they come from and however they got here. They shouldn’t be pawns in debates over finances.
“Councillor Nutting should apologise for using vulnerable children in this way.”
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In response Councillor Bardsley said: “Clearly there are additional costs which are not being met, but our first responsibility is to the children.
“We will take up the issue of funding with the Government, but the main issue is to look after the children.”
Mr Kawczynski said: “It’s highly irresponsible that Councillor Boddington is trying to create a synthetic row. It’s vital for the leader of the council, from a point of view of transparency, to ensure if there has been an unforeseen call for funds which is not commensurate, it should be raised.”Councillor Nutting is absolutely right in raising the situation and making sure the Government recognises the pressure the councils are under.”
“He wouldn’t be doing his duty to the rate payers or the children themselves unless the situation is buttoned down, as this isn’t going to be the last series of children who find themselves trafficked to Shropshire.
“Putting pressure on the Government to help is very very important.”
Councillor Nutting has been contacted for comment
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