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Court ruling may thwart Fenland Council’s move against asylum seekers

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A High Court ruling today looks certain to put paid to Fenland District Council’s hopes of obtaining an interim injunction to stop a Wisbech hotel from housing asylum seekers.

Fenland Council has argued that allowing asylum seekers to stay at the Rose and Crown hotel in the town is a “breach of planning law”.

But that reasoning was laid to rest today by a judge who threw out a similar claim by Ipswich Borough Council.

The borough council had pursued a legal challenge to stop the 4-star Novotel Hotel, Ipswich, from accommodating 70 asylum seekers, who are already staying there.

But Mr Justice Holgate declined to extend an interim injunction which the borough council had earlier obtained.

“It is said that the Novotel is the largest hotel in the centre of Ipswich and that the loss of the accommodation would be damaging to the hospitality and leisure economy of the town, given its close proximity to restaurants and bars,” he said.

“It is arguable that this alleged harm is a planning consideration.”

But he said continuation of the injunction would also cause other important harm.

And referring both to the borough council and to a similar claim lodged by a Yorkshire council, he referred them to the statutory duty of the Home Office to provide a roof over the heads of “destitute asylum seekers who would otherwise be homeless”.

Serco, the Home Office approved contractor, told Fenland Council a week ago that it had signed a deal to accommodate people seeking asylum in the Rose and Crown.

The council moved swiftly and began legal proceedings by seeking an interim injunction.

A Fenland Council spokesperson said: “Due to the substantial risk of harm, which is unable to be mitigated, and potential suffering of the asylum seekers, it said the hotel was a wholly unsuitable place to house vulnerable people.”

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