Home Office’s placement of asylum seekers in Eastbourne hotel criticised

Eastbourne Borough Council has hit out at the placement of asylum seekers in a hotel at the centre of a row over emergency accommodation.

Hotel room (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking on Tuesday (October 5), Eastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt called on the Home Office to take immediate action to rehouse a group of asylum seekers who had been placed into a hotel in the town last weekend.

The hotel — which we have chosen not to name — is one of three recently served with Planning Contravention Notices (PCN) by EBC, due to their use as emergency homelessness accommodation by Brighton and Hove City Council.

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Cllr Tutt said: “This is a very high handed approach from [Home Secretary] Priti Patel. It beggars belief that the government would take this sort of inappropriate action with virtually no consultation or forward planning and without providing support services. 

“They have placed 120 vulnerable asylum seekers into a property that the council is currently taking enforcement action against.  

“We will be making the strongest possible representations to the Home Office. They need to reverse this decision immediately and establish a clear plan to process the applications of these individuals in order that they have some certainty over their future.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We are using hotels to manage unprecedented demand but are determined to end the use of temporary accommodation as soon as possible. We encourage all local authorities to volunteer their support and work with us.

“All the hotels the Home Office uses must meet relevant health and safety legislation and provide their latest health and safety risk assessment

“As part of our New Plan for Immigration to fix the UK’s broken asylum system, we will continue to welcome people through safe and legal routes and prioritise those most in need.”

The hotels were investigated and issued with PCNs amid a row between EBC and BHCC about the latter’s placement of homeless people in the town. Through the notices, the hotels are required to return to ‘holiday accommodation’ as soon as possible. 

EBC argues the BHCC had placed too many people within the town without providing adequate support. This, the borough council said, was having a knock on impact on local services. 

In February, EBC passed a cross-party motion calling on the city council immediately stop making new placements into the town and to reduce the number of its residents within emergency accommodation within Eastbourne.

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has spoken about the background to the placements.

Mrs Ansell said: “I spoke with Home Office officials last week about a hotel being used for asylum seekers.

“I asked for a borough council official to join me at that meeting and they did.

“I too was concerned about a lack of advanced consultation and the officials apologized. It’s fair to say this is a fast-moving situation for the Home Office and they only house asylum seekers in hotels as a last resort.

“I further received assurances this was a temporary measure and those here will be moving onward as soon as possible. I will continue to monitor the situation. Our experience to date has been one of good communication with the Home Office. That it did not happen on this occasion is disappointing.

“Meantime, there are measures the borough council can take in licensing regulations to stop hotels being used in this way.

“Moving forward, the Government has presented a Nationality and Borders Bill to parliament that seeks to break the business of people trafficking gangs that bring people here illegally through dangerous small boat crossings.”