Local councils take Home Office to High Court for block-booking hotel rooms for asylum seekers | UK News


Local councils are taking High Court action against the Home Office to stop it booking out hotel rooms for asylum seekers.

The government has been under intense pressure to reduce numbers at Manston immigration processing centre in Kent, where there are reports of overcrowding, diphtheria and MRSA.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick told Sky News on Tuesday that more hotel rooms are being procured at pace to temporarily accommodate migrants.

But several councils say they have been forced into seeking High Court injunctions after local hotel rooms were block-booked without any prior consultation.

Labour-run Ipswich Borough Council was given an emergency injunction to stop the four-star Novotel Hotel in Ipswich or “any other hotel in the borough” being used to house asylum seekers.

“This is the latest stage in the council’s efforts to prevent the government from turning hotels into a hostel for asylum seekers,” a spokesperson said.

The injunction will last until the council’s next High Court hearing on 7 November, they added.

Conservative-run Stoke City Council got an interim injunction on 21 October that stopped the “use of a local hotel as a hostel by accommodating asylum seekers”.

The case is due back in the High Court on Wednesday.

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Great Yarmouth Borough Council, also run by the Conservatives, said it took its own injunction out over “one hotel in a prime tourism location” being earmarked for migrants.

A temporary stop notice was also placed on a hostel in the area being used in the same way – but this has expired, with the council “considering further enforcement action”.

The authority said it has “always expressed our willingness to engage with the Home Office to find suitable properties to accommodate asylum seekers”, but it wasn’t notified first.

“The absence of any meaningful dialogue or intention to follow due process by the Home Office has resulted in us pursuing this course of action,” the spokesperson said.

Councils not told beforehand

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said it has been “raising increasingly urgent concerns” over the issue.

It claims there has not been “adequate time for consulting – or even sometimes informing the local councils in advance”.

On Monday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman denied reports she had blocked the use of hotels for migrants in Conservative constituencies.

She told the House of Commons: “On no occasion have I blocked the procurement of hotels or alternative accommodation to ease the pressure on Manston, that simply isn’t true.”

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She said 30 new hotels have been made available for asylum seekers since 6 September.

She added that some 4,000 people have since been moved from the overcrowded Manston facility, where there have been claims that “humane conditions” have been breached.

On the use of four-star hotels for migrants, Mrs Braverman said: “For me, that is not acceptable use of taxpayers’ money.”

Minister says he’s finding ‘even more hotels’

Immigration minister Mr Jenrick added on Tuesday that Mrs Braverman and former home secretary Priti Patel have both endeavoured to get more hotel rooms booked for migrants.

“More hotels have been coming online almost every month throughout the whole of this year,” he said.

“So Suella Braverman and her predecessor, Priti Patel, were procuring more hotels. What I have done in my short tenure is wrap that up and procure even more.”

Sky News has contacted the Home Office for further comment.


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