COLCHESTER Council has acquired extra homes to house Afghan refugees after receiving nearly £900,000 from the Government.

Earlier this year, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced a second round of its Local Authority Housing Fund to help obtain housing for those who are unable to find settled accommodation on resettlement schemes.

The Government has now confirmed Colchester Council has received £343,680 of new cash, in addition to almost £548,000 which was paid to the authority as part of the scheme’s first round of funding.

About 100 male refugees had reportedly been housed at the Holiday Inn Express, in Birchwood Road, Langham, but the Gazette understands only a small number remain after a move by the Home Office to stop using hotels to house asylum seekers.

Gazette: Hotel - the Holiday Inn Express in LanghamHotel - the Holiday Inn Express in Langham (Image: Google Maps)

'Government did the right thing'

Some of the men have been moved to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset, while others have remained in Colchester.

Ten Afghan families are currently living in service family accommodation which has been leased to the city council by the Ministry of Defence, though it is understood this is a temporary arrangement while more permanent housing is sought.

Colchester Council leader David King says many of the refugees who worked with the British military feel the garrison town is a good place to settle.

Gazette: Supportive - Colchester Council leader David KingSupportive - Colchester Council leader David King

He said: “Some of the refugees will go into private rented accommodation and some will take advantage of the Local Authority Housing Fund which has led to the acquisition of some homes across Essex, including in Colchester, and beyond.

“These people lost everything. They had to leave their homes and their culture. They left just about everything because of fear for their life and the Government did the right thing given their previous service and the risk to them and their families.

“We will take any and all help we can get given our wider and rising challenges on homelessness.”

Mr King added the council is doing everything it can to tackle its long waiting list for social housing, acknowledging there are “many pressures for many people”.