Council's appeal to Home Office over 'unacceptable' asylum seekers plan

Plans to put asylum seekers in a hotel has sparked a strongly-worded appeal to the Home Office from concerned councillors.

The Holiday Inn Birmingham North, Bridge Street, Cannock, which is set to house asylum seekers from next week
The Holiday Inn Birmingham North, Bridge Street, Cannock, which is set to house asylum seekers from next week

From next week up to 135 asylum seekers will be temporarily housed in the Holiday Inn in Bridgtown, Cannock, as part of the Home Office’s dispersal programme.

But councillors in Cannock Chase and Staffordshire have raised concerns about them being placed at short notice, as well as the impact on local services and the provision of health and welfare support.

The asylum seekers are understood to have arrived in the UK from France and are not part of any programmes to resettle Afghan refugees.

Asylum seekers are being placed in hotels across the country through a Home Office scheme run by Serco.

Councillor Olivia Lyons, leader of Cannock Chase Council said there were “real concerns” about the plan.

“The arrangements for the 135 asylum seekers were made at a national level and we received very little notice from the Home Office,” she said.

“The fact that we had no say in the matter is unacceptable and the whole manner in which it has been handled is disappointing. I share the concerns shared by local residents.

"We will provide humanitarian assistance during the short period they are at the hotel."

Alan White, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: "While we understand the pressures the Home Office is facing in finding accommodation for increasing numbers of people seeking asylum, we are concerned that we have had no say in this matter and virtually no notice to ensure the asylum seekers are given appropriate accommodation where their health and welfare needs can also be met.

"Staffordshire has always been willing to help those most in need, but it is clear that a long-term sustainable approach is needed to meet the statutory responsibilities to accommodate growing numbers of people seeking asylum.

"Greater efforts must also be made to discourage people from making these perilous journeys from their homelands.

"This is something we will raise as a matter of urgency with our MPs and the Home Office."

A Government spokesperson said: "We are using hotels to manage unprecedented demand and we encourage all local authorities to volunteer their support and work with us.

“Throughout the process the Home Office and its providers have been in regular contact with councils and local support services in Staffordshire to keep them informed of our plans for housing asylum seekers.

“We are mindful of pressures on local authorities and are determined to end the use of temporary accommodation as soon as possible."

It comes after about 200 asylum seekers were housed in the Britannia Hotel in Wolverhampton city centre last month, prompting council leader Ian Brookfield to question whether they were getting the right support.

Ministers have vowed that the Nationality and Borders bill, which is currently going through Parliament, will fix the UK's "broken" asylum system.

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