SIXTH council takes action over plans to house migrants in hotels

Now a SIXTH council takes legal action against the Government over controversial plans to house migrants in local hotels

  • Sixth council is taking action to stop Government housing migrants in hotels
  • North Northamptonshire Council applied to High Court for an injunction
  • They want to stop ministers putting asylum seekers in Royal Hotel in Kettering
  • Five other local authorities are also taking legal action against Government
  • Rishi Sunak said he is working ‘day and night’ to end Channel crisis

A sixth council has launched legal action to stop the Government using hotels to house migrants.

North Northamptonshire Council wants to prevent asylum seekers being accommodated at the Royal Hotel in Kettering.

Five other local authorities are also taking legal action: East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Stoke City Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and Fenland District Council. 

The authority applied to the High Court for an emergency injunction and is considering its next steps after this was dismissed.

Almost 40,000 migrants have arrived in Britain in small boats so far this year – compared with a then record 28,500 in the whole of 2021. 

It comes as Rishi Sunak told the Commons that he and Home Secretary Suella Braverman are working ‘day and night’ to end ‘the unacceptable rise in Channel crossings’. 

Home Secretary Suella Braverman leaving 10 Downing Street

North Northamptonshire Council wants to prevent asylum seekers being accommodated at the Royal Hotel in Kettering (pictured)

People standing inside a fenced-off area inside the migrant processing centre in Manston

Number of migrants at crisis-hit Manston falls to nearly 1,100 from 4,000, Government claims 

The number of people at the Manston immigration processing facility is down to 1,147 as of 8am on Wednesday, the Government has announced.

Overcrowding reached breaking point last week with more than 4,000 people at the migrant centre in Kent, more than double its capacity.

Asylum seekers are meant to be at Manston only for short periods of time while undergoing security and identity checks, before being moved to the Home Office’s asylum accommodation.

In this case, however, some people were held for longer periods due to a lack of alternative accommodation, with concerns raised over poor conditions.

On Monday the Government announced that numbers were down to a safe occupancy level of 1,600.

Home Office minister Lord Murray of Blidworth told the House of Lords on Wednesday that numbers were reduced even further.

He said: “I’m glad to report to the House that the numbers at Manston have fallen since (Monday) and there are now some 1,147 people held at Manston as of 8 o’clock this morning.

“Every effort is being made by Home Office staff to rectify the position that has occurred and I’m incredibly grateful for all the hard work they have done in very difficult circumstances.”

Labour frontbencher for home affairs Lord Coaker branded the crisis at Manston last week a “catastrophic failure of Government policy”.

He said: “The Government needs to get a grip, it needs to have a proper plan and it needs to sort out the administration that we saw again today is in chaos with asylum applications having risen by over 305% in the last five years, with excessive time lengths before any decision is made.

“If the Government can’t sort the administration out, it’s not going to sort any problem out. Instead of firefighting, the Government needs to get a grip.”

Lord Murray snapped back: “The Government has got a grip, the Labour Party has no plan.”

He was later chastised by Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb for his “snipe from the dispatch box”.

Council leader Jason Smithers said: ‘We do not feel that the Royal Hotel in Kettering is the appropriate place to accommodate asylum seekers for a number of reasons.

‘We do not feel the proposals have been properly considered to ensure the best possible welfare can be provided to asylum seekers and the local communities in which they are housed. We are now considering our options in light of the injunction’s dismissal by the High Court.’

The council said the proposal for migrants to be housed at the hotel was brought to its attention on October 27.

It said it was provided with further details including a ‘mobilisation date, a day before the date of mobilisation’.

A spokesman said: ‘Emergency injunction applications are considered by the court without notice to the defendants and without the ability for them to make representations until a later date.

‘The court determined that they did not want to consider the application on this basis and that all parties should instead be given an opportunity to be heard at the outset.

‘The application was therefore dismissed on this basis; the merits of the application were not considered.

‘The council is considering whether it should make a further application for an injunction on notice and is awaiting the outcomes of other local authorities who have also taken legal action.

‘It is also continuing to try and seek further confirmation from the Home Office’s contractor on key information which will help the council to support the housing of asylum seekers in suitable accommodation in North Northamptonshire.’

Two of the other local authorities – East Riding of Yorkshire and Ipswich Borough – argued their case at a High Court hearing yesterday.

It was said on their behalf that there had been an ‘unauthorised material change of use’ under planning rules through the Home Office’s attempts to book accommodation in Hull and Ipswich for asylum seekers, and advocates asked for previously granted injunctions to be extended.

But lawyers representing one of the hotel companies told the court that the Government is currently paying for empty rooms at its property because of the legal action.

The judge said he hopes to give his decision on the councils’ applications later this week.

It comes as the Prime Minister gave Conservative former minister Maggie Throup an ‘absolute cast-iron commitment that we want to get to grips with this problem’ after she called for him to commit to an ‘immediate reduction in asylum seekers concentrated in one place’. 

Ms Throup said: ‘Despite a productive meeting with the immigration minister yesterday, the Home Office continues to house over 400 asylum seekers in two neighbouring hotels in my constituency’, and asked for Mr Sunak to ‘intervene’ to permanently close accommodation centres there.

Mr Sunak said: ‘She has my reassurance that the Home Secretary and I are working day and night to resolve this problem, not just to end the use of expensive contingency accommodation, but for more fundamental reform so that we can finally get to grips with this issue, protect our borders and end illegal migration.’

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is asking the court to continue an interim injunction preventing migrants being accommodated at the Humber View Hotel in Hull (pictured)

Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) is also asking for the extension of an interim injunction to stop further asylum seekers being placed at the Novotel hotel (pictured) in Ipswich city centre

Earlier on Wednesday, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan became the latest minister to defend Ms Braverman as Mr Sunak continued to face questions over her reappointment.

Ms Keegan told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think Suella’s got a really difficult job.

‘I mean, anybody trying to handle the small boat crisis with the massive increase in numbers and this market – this organised crime, actually, that is building this market of people and selling dreams and delivering nightmares to people – anyone having to deal with that is going to face challenges.’

She added that Ms Braverman had now got the problems with overcrowding at Manston ‘completely under control’, adding: ‘That’s what she’s achieved.’

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain was looking to do ‘a lot more’ with France in tackling Channel crossings as officials thrash out the final details of a new deal.

He said: ‘I hope there is a deal but fundamentally that’s for the Home Office and the Prime Minister, it’s not something I see on a day-to-day basis across my desk and it’s early days.

Some 11,200 asylum seekers are currently being housed at 84 hotels in the UK. An inflatable craft carrying migrant men, women and children crosses the shipping lane in the English Channel in July 2021

‘Obviously we always want to work closely with France, France is probably our closest European defence ally, we’re looking to do more and more together.

‘I spoke this morning with my French counterpart and obviously there’s a lot of work to do in Africa, where we’re trying to see off extremism and terrorism, or whether that’s indeed on the continent of Europe and around the world.

‘We can do more together, I’m sure, and part of that obviously is cross-government deals around boats in the Channel.’

It comes after a couple told of their devastation today after their wedding in a luxury hotel 300 miles from the Channel was cancelled due to the venue being booked by officials to house asylum seekers. 

Simon Pritchard and Lucy Campbell, 28, were just five weeks away from tying the knot at the four-star Hilton Garden Inn in Snowdonia before hearing the event had been cancelled 

The four-star Hilton Garden Inn is part of the Adventure Parc Snowdonia resort in Dolgarrog, Conwy

Simon Pritchard and Lucy Campbell, 28, were just five weeks away from tying the knot at the four-star Hilton Garden Inn in Snowdonia before being informed via Zoom the event had been called off. 

Reacting to the news, Ms Campbell said: ‘When we were told the venue was being cancelled, we were both completely gobsmacked. We’d been counting down the days for the wedding to happen. When they told us, we just couldn’t believe it, especially the reason they gave us.’

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said this was only a temporary measure and officials are urgently looking for more basic accommodation.  

He said: ‘The hotels are not a sustainable answer, we want to ensure we exit the hotels as quickly as possible and to do that we will need to disperse individuals to other forms of accommodation.

‘We may need to take some larger sites to provide decent but basic accommodation and of course we will need to get through the backlog so that we can get more people out of the system.’

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