AN emergency motion on the Syrian refugee crisis caused outrage at a full meeting of Bury Council, with Conservative councillors refusing to debate the issue.

The motion, put forward by Council leader Mike Connolly last Wednesday night, called for the Government to accept a greater number of refugees and ensure adequate resources were in place for the local authority to settle them in Bury.

However, Conservative members complained that they had not been given notice of the motion in order to prepare a response, and that introducing it at such late notice when a joint motion from all three parties had already been heard contravened the council’s constitution.

Councillor Stella Smith, Mayor of Bury, allowed the motion to go ahead, saying that the situation was a “real emergency”.

Conservative leader Iain Gartside told the chamber: “This is a party political motion and we have been treated in the shabbiest way possible tonight. We will not be taking part in the debate.”

Cllr Connolly responded: “It saddens me that the Conservative group have taken the view that they have. If they are so hung up on procedure and don’t care about Syrian refugees that is a real shame.”

The motion was passed by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors, with the Conservatives abstaining from the vote in silence.

Debating the motion, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Pickstone said: “Taking only 20,000 refugees over five years feels strange when our European neighbours are taking very strong steps. It’s a shame that the Prime Minister isn’t being the statesman he should be on this issue.”

Cllr Sarah Kerrison added: “We need a national response that is led by local authorities. We best know how our local people are going to be affected and how to make people coming into the area feel welcome.

“We have a strong tradition in this borough of welcoming refugees and we need to maintain that.”

Cllr Jane Black said: “In the last week I have felt completely let down by the Government’s response. Local communities across the country want to do more to help and are being held back.”