A COMMITMENT to welcoming and supporting Afghan refugees and asylum seekers to Bury has been supported by councillors.

But a Liberal Democrat motion failed to get the backing of the opposition Conservative group, who although being fully supportive of accepting refugees to the borough from Afghanistan, objected to a clause in the motion seeking to put pressure on the government to increase the foreign aid budget.

The motion stated: “This council resolves to reaffirm our commitment that refugees are very welcome in Bury

“We pledge a commitment to take at least our fair share of refugees, and encourage other local authorities to do the same and work with our public and voluntary sector and partners, and across Greater Manchester, to make that welcome a day to day reality.

“To write to the Government to provide the necessary support and funding to councils to facilitate the housing of refugees and care for refugee children.”

The contentious clause in the motion opposed by the Tories was to ‘reverse immediately the cut to international development aid and restore the 0.7 per cent of GDP minimum’.

Proposing the motion, Cllr Cristina Tegolo, said: “The UK has had a long-standing tradition of welcoming refugees dating back to the second world war and before.

“History will judge us all on how we respond to this current crisis.

“Bury Council should protect refugees who are already here and those who arrive over the coming weeks and months.

“In time of crisis the people of Bury should stand together with the world’s poorest and most marginalised.”

Council leader Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, said: “I’m proud to support this. It goes beyond politics, it’s about humanity.

“We should support people from half the world away who now find themselves in our borough.

“We don’t know them but we want to give them the warmest possible welcome.and the best possible support.

“Bury does a good job in taking our fair share of refugees and asylum seekers when you consider there are many authorities who take zero.

“We have to make sure it’s not just a roof over their heads we have to support their health and education needs.

“Since the crisis in Afghanistan began I’ve had calls from churches, synagogues, mosques, community leaders and language specialists all offering support.”

Conservative councillor Dene Vernon proposed the foreign aid element of the motion be taken out.

He said: “The Conservative group is not against the body of the motion and its aims. Bury has a strong record in supporting refugees.

“The events in Afghanistan are a great tragedy and as a town we should be doing all we can to support those fleeing the country in building a new life here.

“We are happy to support any requests for more funding to help Bury help those fleeing Afghanistan.

“This is a motion that shows all parties in Bury are agreed on this aim.

“Unfortunately it’s disappointing that the motion has inserted reference to foreign aid.

“The issue of foreign aid is a national issue and is not pertinent to this motion.”

Conservative leader Cllr Nick Jones also said his group could not support the motion in it current form but said he hoped the council ‘welcomed people from Afghanistan so they can rebuild their lives. in our borough’.

He added: “I trust they will find our town the welcoming a supportive community that we are known for.

“This is a national effort and we must do whatever we can to support those who have fought with British forces.”

In a vote a majority of councillors defeated the Conservative amendment.

The motion was then carried with all Conservative councillors abstaining from voting.