Call to scrap plans to house hundreds of 'single male asylum seekers' at Stafford site

An MP has called on ministers to scrap controversial plans to place hundreds of asylum seekers at a site in Stafford.

Stafford Court, Beaconside, Stafford
Stafford Court, Beaconside, Stafford

Theo Clarke has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel opposing a scheme that would see nearly 500 single male migrants housed at former student flats in Stafford Court, Beaconside.

The plans – submitted by Serco in March – have been met with a wave of objections, with concerns raised over adding strain to local services, over-population and a potential rise in anti-social behaviour.

Ministers say the scheme forms part of a plan to bring an end to the "costly" use of hotels as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers.

Stafford MP Ms Clarke outlined her concerns in a meeting with Home Office Minister Kevin Foster, and also tabled a written question to Ms Patel.

She asked if the Home Secretary "will reconsider the Government's proposal to relocate approximately 500 single male asylum seekers to Beaconside in Stafford."

In response, Mr Foster said there was "unprecedented demand" to accommodate asylum seekers in the UK.

Theo Clarke MP with Migration Minister Kevin Foster

He said the Government was committed to working with local authorities to move to a "fairer distribution" of asylum seekers and "bring an end to the use of hotels as contingency accommodation".

"The Home Office has therefore announced all local authority areas in England, Scotland and Wales will be expected to participate in a new system of full dispersal to allow us to move away from hotels to less expensive and more suitable accommodation," Mr Foster said.

"We have also announced funding of approximately £3,500 per bedspace procured in this financial year to recognise the pressures of accommodating asylum seekers on local authority areas.

"The Beaconside has been identified as a potential new site for initial accommodation as the current site in the West Midlands is due to close shortly.

"Our accommodation provider, Serco, are proceeding with the consultation on planning and once this is concluded we will convene a multi-agency forum to discuss operations on site.

"These meetings are an opportunity for all members to discuss any ongoing issues and to share best practice."

Under the plans, an initial 171 asylum seekers will be housed at the Weston Road site, which was sold off by Staffordshire University in 2014.

Refugee charity Asha North Staffordshire has backed the plans, saying housing asylum seekers there would "allow some of the most vulnerable members of society the chance to have a roof over their heads and put them on the path to rebuilding their lives after being displaced or fleeing from hardship".

The asylum seeker dispersal scheme has been criticised by local authorities in the West Midlands, seven of which pulled out of it last year after claiming they were being allocated too many migrants.

Hotels including the Britannia in Wolverhampton and Cannock's Holiday Inn have been used to house migrants, who have piled into the country in their thousands in recent years.

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