Syrian refugee families to be housed in Llandrindod Wells

image copyrightLindsay Cardwell
image captionThese Syrian refugees in Aberystwyth thanked the town's residents after their welcome earlier this year

Six families of Syrian refugees will join the 12 already resettled in Powys, under a new council proposal.

They would be the first to be placed in Llandrindod Wells, which was recently named the happiest place to live in Wales.

A report to the council said there were concerns over long waiting lists for council houses in the town.

Powys council's cabinet decided to house the six families on Tuesday.

Ben Lloyd, Oxfam Cymru's campaigns and advocacy manager, welcomed the "encouraging" move.

He said: "The war in Syria is far from over, with over half of the population having fled their homes.

"Indeed, in the first six months of 2017, more people had been displaced in Syria than the same period last year and September declared as the 'deadliest' month in Syria's near seven-year conflict, with 3,000 people losing their lives.

"This shows that it is crucial that we take in our fair share of refugees and Powys County Council is showing a good example of how the response can be stepped up here in Wales."

All councils in Wales have now resettled Syrian families with more than 400 people taken in under a UK government scheme, funded by the Home Office's foreign aid budget.

Half of the 12 families resettled in Powys since July 2016 are in Ystradgynlais with the remaining six in Newtown.

These towns were chosen due to their relatively lower rate of demand for three-bed accommodation.

image captionSyrian families held a cultural event in Ystradgynlais to thank the town back in April

A report by councillor Jonathan Wilkinson said the families had been made to feel welcome and have arranged events to thank their new neighbours.

And a report into the success of the county's resettlement programme highlighted that all the Syrian families reported feeling safe and that they had progressed in learning English and gaining independence since arriving.

But the families raised concerns the English language lessons had been "inadequate" as they wanted to progress faster.

The council was "unexpectedly surprised by the groundswell of support for the families" and recommended a refugee charity be set up in the towns to help address the problems and consider recruiting a migration coordinator officer to work across the county.

Councillor Gary Price, of Llandrindod North, said "families already living within the county have integrated well" with the communities they live in.

He added: "My only concern is the availability of suitable housing within Llandrindod Wells for an additional six families, given regular contact from constituents who have been on the council and registered social housing waiting list for considerable time.

"It is important that Powys residents already on these waiting lists are not prevented suitable housing from any proposals within the cabinet report."

Powys council said the process of housing the six additional families would begin "as soon as possible".

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