OTLEY Town Council has issued a unanimously backed statement in support of efforts to help refugees.

The declaration was made this week as the refugee crisis - involving hundreds of thousands of people fleeing into Europe from war-torn Syria - showed no signs of abating.

Chairman Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) said it was right to make an 'open offer' of assistance to residents involved in fundraising and aid trips.

The statement voted for by Monday's Policy and Resources committee reads: "Otley Town Council recognises and supports this country's long tradition of giving sanctuary to those fleeing war and persecution.

"It commends and welcomes recent efforts by local residents to support Syrian and other refugees in the current crisis.

"It reaffirms its own commitment to offering assistance, wherever possible, to aid refugees and to assist local residents in their efforts to do the same."

Councillor Douglas Robinson (Lib Dem, Manor) sounded a note of caution about how much the town council could practically do.

Coun Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) responded: "We're very clear that as a town council we don't have the power or ability to start housing refugees.

"But the intention of this statement is to recognise the very good efforts that have already been made by some residents.

"We feel that, at the very least, we can make this resource - space at the Otley Core - available if any residents need it, and get behind any organised fundraising efforts people are making to commit money to aid programmes.

"This is an open offer to local residents and community organisations to say 'we're with you and will help in whatever way is available to the council."

Green Councillor Mick Bradley (Danefield), meanwhile, said there could be no doubt that those fleeing from Syria were refugees rather than 'economic migrants'.

He said: "A refugee to me is someone seeking asylum because they have a well founded fear of persecution.

"We're talking about people, in the case of Syria, who are coming from a war zone and are under threat from maybe more than one side.

"Britain does have a longstanding tradition that we don't look the other way and we do help.

"I think we should do as much as we can on a humanitarian basis and if that does involve some - probably quite modest - cost to the council we should be happy with that."

*A residents-organised fundraising afternoon, Refuge, will be held at Otley's Black Horse Hotel on Sunday, September 27.

Running from noon to 6pm, the event will feature everything from live bands and temporary tattoos to storytelling, head massages and handmade crafts.

Organised by the Otley Syrian Refugee Supporters Group, proceeds will go to Syrian refugees based at Molyvos, on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Donations can also be made at crowdfunding.justgiving.com/elizabeth-morrissey .