Asylum seekers are to be moved out of three Cambridgeshire hotels – the Great Northern in Peterborough, the Dolphin at St Ives and the Rose and Crown at Wisbech. The Government says asylum seekers currently staying in these hotels will be moving to other parts of the UK’s asylum estate, including the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, which has capacity for up to 500 men.
The three Cambridgeshire hotels are among the first 50 across the UK that the Government says will stop housing asylum seekers by the end of January.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said this was as a result of a more than 20 per cent drop in small boat crossings compared to last year.
NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay and Peterborough MP Paul Bristow were among the first to hear the news.
“Super news,” said Mr Bristow. “The Great Northern Hotel will shortly be stood down as a hostel for young men who have crossed the Channel on small boats.
“It will be back as a hotel at the gateway to our city.
“Hopefully this will be a new chapter in the history of this historic hotel. It is also good news for our station redevelopment.”
In Wisbech, Cllr Samantha Hoy, cabinet member for housing at Fenland District Council, welcomed the news.
“In our opinion asylum seekers should never have been put there in the first place and that’s why we took legal action against the Government,” she said.
“We feel its no coincidence that our strong stance led to Wisbech being in the first batch of 50 around the country and all the asylum seekers will be moved out in the next three months.”
The Great Northern Hotel – opposite Peterborough rail station – has been used to accommodate up to 80 men who began moving in last November.
In Wisbech around 20 young men were housed at the Rose and Crown.
Fenland District Council Leader, Cllr Chris Boden, said at the time that “we remain deeply concerned about the housing of asylum seekers there.
“There has been no consideration of the potential risks these vulnerable people will be facing or the significant amount of support they will need.”
Fenland Council unsuccessfully fought in the courts to halt the hotel being used for asylum seekers.
The council’s lawyers had used terms such as “significant deprivation”, “organised crime” and a “history of migrant exploitation” as reasons why they felt Serco should be denied a contract to house asylum seekers at the hotel.
The Home Office says it is terminating the contract with Great Northern Hotel as asylum accommodation and it will cease being used by the end of February 2024, “reflecting the contractual notice period on this property.
“Residents currently accommodated in the hotel will be moving to other parts of our asylum estate.
“They will be notified a minimum of 5 days in advance and moved by the Home Office in line with our existing published policies. Whilst we expect impacts on local authorities to be minimal, we are putting in place additional resource to work with our accommodation providers and local partners to manage this process and minimise disruption, particularly focusing on families”.
A Home Office statement added: “Dispersal accommodation is significantly cheaper for the taxpayer and far less impactful on local communities.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said: “Taxpayers cannot be expected to foot the eye-watering bill for the use of hotels to accommodate individuals making illegal, dangerous and wholly unnecessary small boat crossings.
“Our strategy to stop the boats is making progress. With small boat arrivals down more than 20% compared with last year, we can now start to restore these hotels to their rightful use for local communities.
“We remain absolutely determined, through the implementation of the Illegal Migration Act and our Rwanda partnership, to dismantle the smuggling gangs’ business models and stop the boats entirely.”
Can you help us?
While you’re here, we are asking, for the first time, for readers to support us financially by taking out a modest subscription.
£2, or £3 or even £5 will help us achieve our goals. It will mean the second year of CambsNews will be livelier, healthier, and much better placed to cover the important issues affecting our everyday lives.
Your subscription simply means we can provide and expand our news FREE to all readers (Read More)