Brings Protests From Our Labour Correspondent
Of the 16,000 children evacuated from London to Buckinghamshire at the commencement of the war, nearly 50 per cent, have returned home.
In the meantime the Government has gone ahead with registering volunteers willing to take unaccompanied children under the new evacuation plan which is only to become operative if and when air raids occur, and there is already considerable evidence that so far as Berkshire and Buckinghamshire are concerned, as long as the authorities refuse to depart from the principle of billeting 171 private households, this scheme will be no more permanent than the last.
At a meeting of the Wokingharn Rural District Council recently, it was revealed that the local billeting officers had sent ie a strongly worded report to the effect that the situation was rapidly becoming impossible, the householders becoming more. and more hostile to the idea of having to take in evacuees.
WANTAGE AND WINDSOR COMPLAIN Similar difficulties were being experienced at Wantage and at Windsor. In the case of the former, to which area 600 children were to be sent, the local authority has protested to the Minister of Health, who promised to revise the number if it was ultimately found necessary. Windsor had communicated to the Minister in the same vein concerning the 500 which it was proposed to send there. Some 800 transfers to fresh billets of evacuees already in this town have been effected since October, and without the use of compulsory powers the number envisaged under the new scheme could not possibly be placed.
The reluctance of the local authorities to use compulsory powers Is consequent upon the resentment and bitterness which the evacuation scheme has aroused amongst householders in the reception areas, feelings of hostility too widespread to be altogether ignored. It is universally admitted by those who have had first-hand contact with this social upheaval that billeting on private individuals is a. measure that at the most can only be a temporary expedient.
During the six months that have elapsed since the beginning of the war, the Government has hagl time to bring into being camps where these London children could be housed, fed and educated communally, which is the only permanent solution to this problem. So far, apparently, only one such camp has been set up, this near Reading, to which a school from Ilford has been transferred. Since then the Ministry has adopted a policy of dolee far niente.