COUNCILLORS have unanimously welcomed plans to house refugees from Afghanistan in Helensburgh – and have blasted the Home Secretary for her comments on refugees earlier this week.

Suella Braverman came in for criticism from one of her own party colleagues after questioning whether the 1951 UN Refugee Convention was fit for the modern age – and saying that discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be enough to qualify for international refugee protection.

A report on the plan to house refugees in nine Ministry of Defence (MoD) properties in Helensburgh, with support from Argyll and Bute Council for the first three years of their residence in the area, was considered at a full council meeting on Thursday – with the plans getting backing from councillors of all parties, and in all wards.

Councillor Yvonne McNeilly (Conservative, Cowal), said: “I disagree entirely with what Ms Braverman has said. These people are fleeing from persecution, terror and climate change, and this situation will not get any better.

“It requires a global effort, but it will not go away. Would you not want that safety for your children? Would you not want to come here to the UK? I know I would.

“I am really pleased with the effort we have made here in Argyll and Bute. It is ahead of the pack, and all power to the team.”

Councillor Math Campbell-Sturgess (SNP, Helensburgh and Lomond South) said: “I would like to welcome anybody condemning the despicable remarks made by Ms Braverman.

“Argyll and Bute has always welcomed new people in.

“The report states that there will be three years of support, and that is to be absolutely welcomed, with families based in MoD properties, but what happens after that?

“Will the houses be removed, or will the families get to continue living there? I appreciate that the funding may not continue, but will the houses continue?”

Council executive director Douglas Hendry responded: “The MoD will be the landlords, and it is also my understanding that the intention is that when these properties come into use, there will be a degree of churn.

“People may more to more permanent options, whether that is in Argyll and Bute or elsewhere. It is not simply a case of the nine properties being made available and made permanent residences.”

Morag Brown, the council’s business improvement manager, added: “They are being offered secure tenancies – that is the MoD’s position.

“Resettlement is complicated, with managing expectations of families when they arrive in a new country.

“We provide support to allow all families to resettle and regroup. It is unknown at this point how many will continue to live in Helensburgh beyond the three years, but they would be able to do that.”

The properties have been earmarked by MoD officials as part of the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which was launched by the UK Government in April 2021 - four months before the Taliban seized power in the country.

The project is in place to support people who worked with the British forces in Afghanistan,and are identified to be at serious risk to life.

No addresses were listed in the report considered by the council on Thursday.