A Labour-run council has sent a busload of newly arrived Syrian migrants into a primary school for a “welcome event”, without notifying parents or teachers.
The migrants had landed at Newcastle Airport from Lebanon at lunchtime on Tuesday, and were taken straight to the ‘welcome centre’ in a disused building on school grounds.
The first parents at the Middlesbrough school knew of the Middle Eastern migrants spending the day alongside their children was when they saw their bus arriving.
When they questioned the headmistress, she could not explain the situation.
“My kids attend Overfields Primary School and within school grounds there is an unused building,” one concerned parent told the Evening Gazette.
“As we picked our kids up today you could imagine our surprise when we saw the full bus. I’ve tried contacting the school headmistress and council but nothing has been said.”
School were not informed about the activity in the other building today. Nobody is being housed on site. School have complained to LA
— Overfields Primary (@OverfieldsPri) May 24, 2016
“It is not anything to do with the school,” insisted headmistress Tracy Watson.
“We share the site in question with different providers, one of whom is Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. I probably know as much as you at this point,” she told the local paper yesterday.
A spokesman for Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council said: “The refugees were attending a welcome event, which included an introduction to the area before being taken to their homes.”
Alison Ker, who is working at the site, said: “It is just a registration centre and they will be leaving tonight.” She said those at the site have just flown into the UK, but declined to give details over where they would be based.
Please be reassured the school site is safe. The other building is empty & locked up. We look forward to seeing all pupils in school today.
— Overfields Primary (@OverfieldsPri) May 25, 2016
The migrants are believed to be part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to resettle 20,000 Syrians in the UK before the end of this Parliament.
They will come from camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan over the next five years, with the Home Secretary announcing the first arrivals in September last year.
The primary school arrivals happened on the same day the local authority approved plans to allow 125 a year to move to the area, forming part of wider plan to welcome up to 500 Syrian families to Teesside in North West England.
Another 1,000 will be settled on the tiny Isle of Bute in the Firth of Clyde, which has a total population of just 6,498. Police have arrested a man on the island for complaining on Facebook about the rapid demographic change.