Home Office staff scramble to book hotels for asylum seekers
3rd November 2022

Home Office staff scramble to book hotels for asylum seekers costing £7m-a-day as Tory backbenchers revolt over accommodation in tourist hotspots

  • Robert Jenrick said Government was trying to transfer people from Manston in Kent ‘as quickly as possible’
  • But move sparked backlash from Tories angry about prime locations in constituencies being block-booked
  • The MPs include David Davis, Selaine Saxby, Kate Kniveton, Jo Gideon, Tom Hunt and Katherine Fletcher

The Home Office was today continuing a frantic search for more hotel rooms for asylum seekers to relieve pressure at an overcrowded processing facility – as Tory backbenchers staged a revolt about the block-booking of prime locations in their constituencies. 

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said the Government was trying to transfer people from crisis-hit Manston in Kent ‘as quickly as possible’. But the move has sparked a backlash from backbench Conservatives angry about prime locations in their constituencies being block-booked. 

Tory MPs who have complained about the use of hotels in their areas include David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden), Selaine Saxby (North Devon), Kate Kniveton (Burton), Jo Gideon (Stoke-on-Trent Central), Tom Hunt (Ipswich) and Katherine Fletcher (South Ribble). 

Mr Davis complained last week about the use of the four-star Humber View Hotel just outside Hull, describing it as ‘entirely in the wrong location’. Ms Saxby said the decision to house asylum seekers in Ilfracombe because it was a ‘remote, coastal community where healthcare provisions are already stretched’. 

Ms Gideon said she had written to Suella Braverman, the home secretary, to oppose the use of the 88-room North Stafford Hotel 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.

Mr Hunt has joined forces with Ipswich Borough Council, which was granted an interim injunction last week after the Home Office revealed plans to house 200 asylum seekers in the four-star Novotel hotel. ‘Accommodating people who have come here illegally in expensive hotels smack-bang in the town centre is not something I am going to support,’ he told the Telegraph. ‘Businesses are very concerned about this as it was often used by them for work.’ 

Meanwhile, Ms Fletcher said she had ‘serious concerns’  about an attempt by the Home Office to use the 150-room Leyland hotel near the M6 due to its ‘isolated location and lack of access to local transport links or amenities’. 

In Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, local council chief executive Sheila Oxtoby wrote to Home Office officials after they booked up the whole of ‘a very successful, sustainable hotel’ popular with holidaymakers. But she was ignored and 72 migrants moved in. Great Yarmouth Borough Council then took legal action and won a temporary injunction stopping a second hotel, the Embassy, from taking more asylum seekers.

The Government is spending nearly £7million a day to house asylum seekers in hotels, it emerged last week. Out of this total, £5.6m is being spent on asylum seekers, while another £1.2m is being spent on bridging hotels for Afghans.   

Last night, Mr Jenrick said it was important to relieve pressure on Manston, where the ‘pressure-cooker’ environment has led to fights break out, according to reports. 

Speaking to ITV’s Peston, he said: ‘We’re procuring more hotels in all parts of the country, decanting the migrants from Manston to those as quickly as we can. And once we’ve done that, we’ll be able to restore Manston to the kind of acceptable humane conditions that all of us would want to see.’

Stoke Central MP Jo Gideon said she had written to Suella Braverman, the home secretary, to oppose the use of the 88-room North Stafford Hotel for asylum seekers

Katherine Fletcher (South Ribble) said she had ‘serious concerns’ about an attempt by the Home Office to use the 150-room Leyland hotel near the M6 due to its ‘isolated location and lack of access to local transport links or amenities’

Tom Hunt (Ipswich) has joined forces with Ipswich Borough Council, which was granted an interim injunction last week after the Home Office revealed plans to house 200 asylum seekers in the four-star Novotel hotel

David Davis complained last week about the use of the four-star Humber View Hotel just outside Hull, describing it as ‘entirely in the wrong location’

This graphic – which is made using official Home Office data – shows the number of asylum seekers in each region claiming support from local councils 

It comes as a lifeboat crew on a training course was kicked out of a hotel midway through their stay to make way for asylum seekers, as thousands of homeless migrants are put up in five-star hotels.

Four members of the RNLI were turfed out of the three-star hotel in Hoylake, Merseyside, without notice on Tuesday. 

They came back to find their bags packed and left in the foyer after taking part in a hovercraft training session on nearby mudflats.

A source said: ‘The irony is off the scale. These migrants were picked up in the Channel by members of Border Force and volunteers from the RNLI. Now some of those volunteers, literally on a course to improve the ways they can save lives at sea, have been kicked out of their hotel by the very people they’re training to rescue.’

The migrants were driven to the hotel from the crisis-hit overcrowded Manston asylum processing facility in Kent, more than 300 miles away.

It has also been revealed that four- and five-star hotels are being booked out for months at a time to house thousands of migrants.

The RNLI crew members – one volunteer and three staff – are now staying in a different hotel eight miles away in Liverpool. 

The Hoylake hotel is the latest to be identified to house asylum seekers. Sources said councillors were ‘left in the dark’ about the plans.

The lifeboat crew came back to find their bags packed and left in the foyer after taking part in a hovercraft training session on nearby mudflats. Pictured, people thought to be migrants

Great Hallingbury Manor, a four-star hotel in Essex, is housing 50 men from north Africa

The Home Secretary heading to Dover today. The Government faces legal action over conditions at the Manston migrant processing centre, thought to be housing at least twice as many people as it is designed to hold

It is understood that the local authority was notified on Monday that the premises, which has more than 50 rooms, had been commissioned by the Home Office and government contractor Serco to house migrants.

Two of the hotels secured include Great Hallingbury Manor, a four-star hotel in Essex, and The Dolphin Inn, a four-star stay in St Ives, the news site reported.

There are more than 50 men from north Africa staying in the Essex venue, which with its lake, picnic area and barbeque, has been block-booked for ‘up to two months’, a staff member told The Sun.

‘They have the run of the hotel — the bedrooms are very comfortable — and three meals a day. Some have complained about the food because it’s not what they’re used to,’ the staff-member said.

‘They spend their time walking about or playing football. Language is a problem but they don’t say much. They tend to keep themselves to themselves.’

They added that there are two people ‘looking after’ the group of men.

The Dolphin Inn, in Cambridgeshire, is reportedly housing asylum seekers from Afghanistan and other countries.

The Prime Minister has said that since September, 4,500 more hotel beds have been sourced for the Government. 

Great Hallingbury Manor has been block-booked out for ‘up to two months’, a staff member said

A staff member said that some of the men have complained about the food at Great Hallingbury Manor

A spokesperson for the Home Office said that when migrants are moved into Government-paid hotels, most of the hotel’s other facilities, such as pools and gyms, will not be available to use. 

It comes amid chaotic scenes across the country as immigration staff desperately try to find accommodation for the thousands of migrants crossing the Channel every week.

Jenni Halliday, Serco’s contract director for asylum accommodation services, said: ‘With the significant increases in the number of people arriving in the UK we have been faced with no alternative but to temporarily accommodate some asylum seekers in hotels. These hotels are only used as a last resort.’

Elsewhere, women fleeing domestic abuse could be next to find themselves displaced after a High Court ruling yesterday. 

A judge suspended an injunction which had prevented a hotel from housing asylum seekers. 

The court heard that Stoke-on-Trent City Council opposed the Home Office’s plan to book all 88 rooms in the historic North Stafford Hotel because it was a breach of planning rules and prevented the council from using it for vulnerable locals.

The council wrote to the Home Office in September expressing its concerns at the plan.

‘In addition to this, it was the location used by the city council to accommodate low risk homeless families with children and women fleeing domestic abuse, who will now be displaced as this arrangement has been ended by the hotel as a direct result of the Home Office proposal,’ the letter read.

The judge, Mr Justice Linden, refused to extend the injunction until a final hearing, which is expected to take place in December, meaning the hotel can be used to house migrants immediately. 

The migrants were driven to the hotel from the crisis-hit overcrowded Manston asylum processing facility in Kent, more than 300 miles away

In his ruling, he said: ‘I take into account the perspective of the citizens of Stoke-on-Trent but hope they would appreciate the potential suffering of the asylum seekers is no small matter when one considers the circumstances in which they have come.’

The city was one of four local authorities to take legal action against hotels being block-booked for migrants.

A council spokesman said: ‘We are obviously disappointed that we were unsuccessful in seeking a continuance of the interim injunction to restrain the use of a local hotel as a hostel by accommodating asylum seekers.

‘The city has a long tradition of supporting asylum seekers, having been an asylum dispersal area over three decades.’

Listen to the woke BBC and you’d think voters want our borders flung open 

By Matt Goodwin

If you have listened to the BBC this week, then you might be under the impression that much of the country want to see our borders flung open.

On its flagship Today programme on Radio 4 yesterday, listeners heard an interview with a migrant who had been housed at Manston processing centre in Kent in which the living conditions were described by the reporter as akin to a ‘prison camp’.

‘We can’t go to the toilet, we can’t take a shower… we don’t have any clothes,’ the man claimed, talking about the suffering he has endured.

There is no doubt that Manston is failing as it faces an overwhelming surge in arrivals. But what was lacking in that Today item was any sense of perspective. No discussion of the impact that the 40,000-odd asylum seekers who have crossed the Channel this year have on our already overstretched resources.

Another BBC politics show this week described the intensifying migrant crisis as a ‘culture war’, as if wanting controlled borders is a confected issue not worthy of serious attention.

If you have listened to the BBC this week, then you might be under the impression that much of the country want to see our borders flung open

Yet the BBC’s virtue signallers have actually got it all wrong. New polling by my firm People Polling shows that 60 per cent of people think the Government has lost control of Britain’s borders. And that the vast majority of Brits also reject the idea that those arriving on small boats should be allowed to stay.

All of this speaks to a deeper point. In 2016, the British people voted resoundingly to Take Back Control of a broken immigration system.

Six years on – and with the daily hotel bill for housing immigrants now topping £6.8million – many will be asking: what, if anything, has changed?

The Establishment has, of course, never forgiven Brexiteers for the result of the referendum, and continues to do its best to thwart an independent Britain. But it is also true that our political class has consistently over-promised and under-delivered.

And the problem is that people won’t put up with it for much longer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when my firm asked voters which leader they think would best manage the crisis on our beaches, the most popular answer was ‘none of them’ followed by Nigel Farage, the former Brexit Party leader who was among the first to highlight the problem many years ago.

This should ring alarm bells in No10. For unless the Prime Minister and his Conservative government get a grip of this crisis, unless they ignore the shrieking media – propped up by the hard-Left on Twitter and the Establishment Blob – and listen to what voters up and down this country really want, the Tories will suffer a wipeout at the next election.

On its flagship Today programme on Radio 4 yesterday, listeners heard an interview with a migrant who had been housed at Manston processing centre in Kent in which the living conditions were described by the reporter as akin to a ‘prison camp’

So what is the solution?

Well, if Rishi Sunak is serious about this then I would tell him to prioritise the following four things immediately.

Firstly, he should strive to strike a new deal with the French to help them smash the Albanian gangs in northern France who are responsible for much of the illicit boat trade.

So far this year, the French have broken more than 50 people smuggling rings. We need to help them to break more but we also need to hold them to account when they fail to deliver value on the tens of millions of pounds we have been giving them in recent years.

Secondly, Sunak should turn up the volume on the current deterrent by striking more Rwanda-style deals, making it clear if people travel through other safe countries to come to Britain they will be sent elsewhere to be processed.

Many readers will recall the Rwanda plan – the brainchild of former home secretary Priti Patel – has already been stifled. In June an anonymous judge from the European Court of Human Rights signed off an 11th-hour injunction grounding a jet that had been due to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda, despite UK courts ruling that the flight could go ahead.

This should ring alarm bells in No10. For unless the Prime Minister and his Conservative government get a grip of this crisis, unless they ignore the shrieking media – propped up by the hard-Left on Twitter and the Establishment Blob – and listen to what voters up and down this country really want, the Tories will suffer a wipeout at the next election

That is why, thirdly, the PM must be pushing back much harder against this dead hand of Europe that continues to loom large. In our poll, we found that only 14 per cent of the country think judges in Strasbourg should be able to override decisions over borders made in British courts. If necessary, Mr Sunak must be prepared to leave the ECHR altogether.

Fourthly, he must create a bespoke route for the immediate deportation of the rapidly rising number of Albanians entering Britain illegally. Reports immigration minister Robert Jenrick plans to ‘fast-track’ the removal of migrants who have no right to stay are promising.

For Albania, remember, is not a war-torn country. It is a peaceful state that is even in talks to join the European Union and abides by the same modern slavery laws as Britain.

Over the last two years the number of Albanians arriving in Britain by small boats has rocketed from just 50 to 12,000, with 10,000 of them being single, working-age men. Many of these people are not fleeing war or persecution; they are making bogus asylum claims.

One Home Office official told parliament this week, while a staggering 2 per cent of Albania’s adult male population has come to the UK in small boats, many are put in touch with Albanian gangs in the UK who are involved in organised crime, drug smuggling, prostitution and violence.

Many readers will recall the Rwanda plan – the brainchild of former home secretary Priti Patel – has already been stifled

Following Liz Truss’s disastrous spell in office, Sunak will have his work cut out to fend off Labour at the next election. Retaining Boris Johnson’s 2019 majority seems nearly unimaginable. But he has to try

The British people are not stupid. They see this scam for what it is. In our poll, more than 60 per cent said they want Albanians who arrive across the Channel to be put on a plane and returned home directly.

The conversation on the BBC and elsewhere will tell you nothing of the sort. But as they ruthlessly march on in their biased pursuit of the ‘progressive’ and the woke, the PM and his Home Secretary must hold firm.

A tough line on this crisis will be well received by the majority of the British public who are good-hearted, tolerant and welcoming but simply now feel that they are being taken for a ride.

Following Liz Truss’s disastrous spell in office, Sunak will have his work cut out to fend off Labour at the next election. Retaining Boris Johnson’s 2019 majority seems nearly unimaginable. But he has to try.

Sir Keir Starmer has shown time and again he has no plan to deal with immigration. The PM must prove he is different.

He must find the strength to stare down the mob and deliver to the British people the strong and controlled national borders they are crying out for. If he doesn’t, they’ll show him at the ballot box what they think of such weakness.

Professor Matt Goodwin is the author of National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy. A nationally representative poll of 1,212 adults was conducted by People Polling.

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