Guildford Stands with the people of Ukraine

March 10, 2022 2:08 PM
By Zöe Franklin

Last week I wrote the open letter below to the Cllr Joss Bigmore (Leader) and Cllr Julia McShane (Deputy Leader) of Guildford Borough Council. In it, I asked a series of questions about how the action the Council is taking to stand with and support the people of Ukraine. I am grateful to Cllr Bigmore for responding to me within a matter of hours with responses to my queries.

I held off sharing the answers last week to give the Council time to issue its own public statement on Ukraine - you can read it here. It is great to see the steps the Council is taking to publicly stand with the people of Ukraine and I felt that it would be helpful to share the answers I received as these build on the Council's statement. See below.

In spite of the awfulness of the situation in Ukraine, it is heartwarming to see the people of Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages being so active in their desire to help. Thank you to everyone who is donating time, items and money. If you are looking for ways to help here are a couple of options:

Firstly, will Guildford Borough Council agree to fly the Ukrainian flag at Millmead House to show our sympathy, solidarity and support of Ukraine?

"The Mayor has agreed that Ukraine flags be flown at civic buildings and we are procuring it those. We will be floodlighting the Castle with blue and yellow. A statement from the Mayor will be on our website tomorrow."

Secondly, both our country and community have a proud record of supporting refugees. Will the council please lobby the Government and call on it to align our refugee policy with that of the European Union, to ensure those fleeing war can find safety?

ZF Letter on Ukraine

Secondly, both our country and community have a proud record of supporting refugees. Will the council please lobby the Government and call on it to align our refugee policy with that of the European Union, to ensure those fleeing war can find safety?

Will Guildford Borough Council work with Surrey County Council, Guildford's neighbouring Borough/District Councils, local charities and the public to help house as many Ukrainian refugees as we can?

"Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that thousands more Ukrainians will be welcomed to the UK. An uncapped sponsored humanitarian visa route will allow sponsors, such as councils, communities or private sponsors, to bring people to the UK. They will be able to work and the sponsor would provide housing and integration support. The Home Secretary also set out a bespoke humanitarian support package. This includes establishing a Ukrainian Family Scheme so that British nationals and people settled in the UK can bring a wider group of family members to the UK, extending eligibility to parents, grandparents, adult offspring, siblings, and their immediate family members. Those joining family in the UK will be granted leave for an initial period of 12 months. They will be able to work and access public funds.

Further details on the community sponsorship route are being worked up and will be communicated in due course, including how people and organisations in the UK can apply to be sponsors. We await further information on the council's role in these schemes"

Will the council please lobby Surrey County Council to review its general and pension investments to ensure that there are no financial links to Russia and Belarus, and if there are to end those links?

Finally, I ask that Guildford Borough Council review and end any financial links it may have with Russia or Belarus, e.g. investments, energy supply or other contracts.

"We have been reviewing whether the council has any financial links with the countries of Russia and Belarus. We have not identified any links in investments, energy supply or contracts. We have written to Surrey Pension Fund, which has stated that it is checking its exposures and will provide us with an update as soon as possible."

Zöe Franklin
Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages
11th March 2022

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