Barrie Grunewald: We’re doing our bit to help refugees

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ONE or two people (and it is just one or two people) seem to be getting a bit hot under the collar about refugees.

Some of the comments I’ve seen online are slightly disconcerting and appear to be based on very little information.

Thankfully I know the vast majority of people in St Helens have a realistic view of the situation and are more than happy for the borough to play a small part in helping to relieve one of the greatest human tragedies the world has seen in recent years.

So just to put things in context, it’s probably worth clarifying our position. Like other councils across Merseyside and the North West, and as part of our statutory duties, we’re working with SERCO - the Home Office appointed organisation for acquiring housing for asylum seekers.

As part of the agreement we’re identifying up to 30 homes where we can provide safety and shelter for people and families who are in desperate need – after fleeing their own countries to escape persecution and other horrific experiences.

It’s a tiny number, it’s the right thing to do and I know that the overwhelming majority of residents are only too happy to extend the hand of friendship to those in need.

Logistics is already an important feature of our local economy – with major, well-established facilities in Haydock and other parts of the borough.

But its importance will continue to grow in St Helens - with transport, warehousing and distribution playing an increasingly vital role in our future.

The Parkside project alone could create up to 4,000 jobs and will be of strategic importance to the whole Liverpool city region - providing a comprehensive warehousing, freight and distribution resource for the Liverpool City Region SuperPort.

“But having the right skills in place is crucial – so I’m delighted to see the new Logistics Academy and CiLT courses at St Helens College. They will go a long way towards making St Helens a centre of excellence in logistics terms.

Finally, well done to staff, governors, parents and students at Lansbury Bridge School.

Their hard work and determination has really paid off, with the school emerging from special measures in just 12 months and gaining a ‘good’ rating after its latest Ofsted inspection.

Inspectors highlighted the improvement in leadership and management since the previous inspection and praised the headteacher Jane Grecic’s ‘strong vision to further improve the school to become outstanding.’

They also commented on the ‘outstanding’ work done by the school to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare, which is another significant improvement.