Councils and Tory MPs resist plans to house asylum seekers in local hotels | Immigration and asylum

Several Conservative MPs are resisting government attempts to use hotels to house asylum seekers, while at least four councils are taking legal action to block the move.

The Home Office said record levels of arrivals to the UK had put unprecedented pressure on the system and it was working with councils to “find appropriate accommodation during this challenging time”.

But the plan is facing fierce opposition from at least six Conservative MPs, who are resisting proposals for hotels in their constituencies being used to house asylum seekers.

At the same time, three Tory-led councils – Great Yarmouth, Stoke-on-Trent and East Riding of Yorkshire – and Labour-led Ipswich borough council have launched legal action against the plans.

The Conservative backbenchers blocking the use of hotels in their areas are Selaine Saxby (North Devon), Kate Kniveton (Burton), Jo Gideon (Stoke-on-Trent Central), Tom Hunt (Ipswich), Katherine Fletcher (South Ribble) and David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden).

Davis, Gideon, Kniveton, Saxby and Fletcher have all contacted the Home Office to express their objections.

Last week, Davis tweeted: “I have been contacted by several constituents concerned about proposals to use Humber View hotel in my constituency to house asylum seekers. East Riding council and I have been resisting the proposals since the Home Office first made us aware of them.”

Gideon said she had written to the home secretary, Suella Braverman, to oppose the use of the 88-room North Staffordhotel for asylum seekers. “As we seek to level up Stoke-on-Trent, the proposed location, at the gateway to our city for those arriving by train, is particularly inappropriate,” she told the Stoke Sentinel.

Fletcher said she had challenged the Home Office over the suitability of using the 150-room Leyland hotel near the M6 as temporary accommodation for people seeking asylum. She said she had serious concerns about the “isolated location and lack of access to local transport links or amenities”.

Kniveton told her local paper that she had spoken to Braverman, urging her to give councils more say about where asylum seekers are housed.

Writing on her constituency website, Saxby said: “I am deeply concerned that an operating hotel in Ilfracombe has offered its facilities to the Home Office to house asylum seekers. While I fully appreciate the need to look after those who are waiting for asylum cases to be heard, I believe very strongly it should be in a facility within a larger town, so it does not put further strains into an already remote, coastal community where healthcare provisions are already stretched.”

She had a meeting with the Home Office last month and said she feared a decision had already been made.

Hunt backed an injunction that secured the Labour-led council against using the 200-room Novotel in Ipswich for asylum seekers. “But it’s important to note that it is short-term and we need to make sure it is permanent, and I will be supporting the council in doing that,” Hunt told the BBC.

On Wednesday, Sheila Oxtoby, the chief executive of Great Yarmouth borough council, accused the Home Office of showing a “total lack of consultation and engagement” with local authorities on the issue.

The council said it had secured an interim injunction in relation to one hotel in a “prime tourism location where there is a proposed use as a hostel for accommodating asylum seekers”.

Lawyers for Stoke-on-Trent city council appeared at the high court on Wednesday to ask for a temporary injunction granted on 21 October to be extended, after it was told the Home Office planned to use the North Stafford hotel to house asylum seekers.

Jake Thorold, representing the local authority, told the court that the plans would be a breach of planning rules and that it “cannot be right” that “the Home Office can choose to contract with any hotel that is willing to do so and move asylum seekers in breach of planning controls”.

Other authorities have also raised concerns, with Tamworth borough council in Staffordshire saying a “decision by the Home Office to use a property in Tamworth for asylum seeker accommodation happened very quickly”.

Council leaders from 14 Kent authorities have warned that the county is at “breaking point” because of the burden of accommodating migrants and asylum seekers.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The number of people arriving in the UK who seek asylum and require accommodation has reached record levels, placing unprecedented pressures on the asylum system. The Home Office and partners identify sites for accommodation based on whether they are safe and available.

“While we accept that hotels do not provide a long-term solution, they do offer safe, secure and clean accommodation, and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation during this challenging time.”

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