UP to 20 homes in Essex will be given to refugees from Syria as temporary accommodation.

Essex County Council is working with the Home Office to identify properties and welcome refugees to the county.

About 216 refugees have been housed so far nationally, with none in Essex but County Hall has earmarked properties across the county that can be used with the Home Office set to cover the cost.

In a document seen by the Echo, this includes two private rented homes in Basildon and a property Essex County Council own in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley.

According to the report Rochford and Castle Point councils did not respond to County Hall, a mistake according to a Castle Point Council spokesman.

He said: “We have responded, the report is inaccurate. We were in discussions with them at the time of the report and it’s a mistake. We put forward a property that is in public ownership.”

A spokesman for Rochford Council said: “Rochford Council will play its part as and when it’s required to do so.”

Kerry Smith, independent county councillor for Basildon Westley Heights, blasted councils for not responding to the crisis.

He said: “Regardless of party affiliation, councils have been asked if they can find anywhere for the refugees and Basildon Council has been logical and said ‘let’s look at the private sector and see what is there’.

“It seems to me that say it’s only two properties a year for the next five years, that’s a scale that can easily be absorbed.

“It surprises me that some authorities would wash their hands of what they perceive as a problem.”

Essex County Council also owns a number of residential properties that subject to refurbishment could provide homes to Syrian refugees.

The Government announced in September the UK would accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.

The report, sent to all county councillors, said: “ECC will be responsible for coordinating the ‘meet and greet’ of the refugees arriving from the airport and escorting them to their properties and briefing then on how to use the amenities.

“Discussions are taking place with the voluntary and faith sector about how they could fulfil this role on the council’s behalf.”

Basildon Council has earmarked two properties in the private sector which could be used.

Council leader Phil Turner said: “Basildon Council along with other Essex Councils has been working closelywith Essex County Council about how we respond to the humanitarian refugee crisis. Part of this response includes housing provision to help refugees.

“Basildon has offered two private sector houses to help refugee families as part of this response.

“We are pleased to be part of a co-ordinated Essex-wide response to the Government’s request and when we know the numbers of refugees allocated Essex County Council, along with their partners, will be releasing these figures.”

David Finch, leader of Essex County Council said: “Essex is a generous county and we will play our part to help those affected by the humanitarian crisis.

“I would like to thank all of our district, borough and city council partners who have worked with us to put forward available housing options.

“This is an ongoing process, and we will be providing more information next week on when we expect the first arrivals in Essex.”

SOUTHEND Council says although it has offered to welcome ten refugees to the borough, it’s unlikely any will be taken in before Christmas.

It’s likely the borough will welcome two or three families in private accommodation with council bosses waiting for details of Government funding before it can confirm numbers.

Southend Council leader Ron Woodley said: “There has been no change to the initial figure we put forward, which was ten to 12 refugees in total – likely to be two or three families.

“The Government has confirmed the funding it will provide for the first year of the resettlement scheme, but is still to confirm the level of funding for the subsequent four years.

“Once all the details on the scheme are confirmed, we will reassess the numbers we would be able to support. We have started a dialogue with the Home Office but this is at a very early stage. We are also very pleased to be in discussions with faith and community partners on this issue.

“We believe we won’t be in a position to take any refugees before Christmas.”