'Outrage' as migrant hotels are forced upon tourist hotspots

·4-min read
Coach loads of migrants wave to photographers as they leave Manston migrant centre in Kent
Coach loads of migrants wave to photographers as they leave Manston migrant centre in Kent

Councils are resisting “migrant hotels” being imposed in tourist hotspots as the Home Office attempts to disperse the thousands who have arrived in small boats across the Channel.

At least four councils - some in prime tourist areas - have taken legal action after hotels were block-booked by the Home Office for migrants.

Tory MPs have also raised concerns at the dispersal, claiming that some councils are having to take a disproportionate number of migrants.

It comes as the Home Office seeks to ease the overcrowding crisis at Manston asylum processing centre in Kent where 4,000 migrants were held at the weekend on a site designed for just 1,600.

The overcrowding has led to claims that the Home Office is acting unlawfully because of its legal responsibility to process migrants within 24 hours. Nearly 40,000 migrants have crossed the Channel this year, double the rate of last year, with ministers anticipating at least 50,00 by the end of 2022.

In Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, local council chief executive Sheila Oxtoby wrote to Home Office officials after they booked up the whole of "a very successful, sustainable hotel" popular with holidaymakers.

But she was ignored and 72 migrants moved in. Great Yarmouth Borough Council then took legal action and won a temporary injunction stopping a second hotel, the Embassy, from taking more asylum seekers.

'Total lack of engagement'

Ms Oxtoby said they had taken legal action after the failure of the Home Office to offer proper consultation or engagement.

“We feel that two properties running as successful hotels in a prime tourism area have been selected to accommodate asylum seekers. That’s what we object to as well as the process by which they have been selected,” she said.

“There has been a total lack of engagement and consultation with us as a local council and they haven’t used our local knowledge to find the most suitable accommodation. The accommodation they have selected in a prime tourism area and they do not have permission for change of use from the planning authority and that is what we are objecting to.”

Ipswich Borough Council was granted an interim injunction last week after the Home Office planned to house 200 asylum seekers in a four-star hotel. The Labour council and local Tory MP Tom Hunt joined forces to fight for the court order against the Novotel hotel.

Mr Hunt said: “This is the most pressing issue in my inbox. Accommodating people who have come here illegally in expensive hotels smack-bang in the town centre is not something I am going to support. Businesses are very concerned about this as it was often used by them for work. It’s now lost that purpose.”

The 88-room North Stafford Hotel in Stoke-on-Trent has also been prevented from housing migrants after council bosses secured a temporary injunction. Stoke City Council won the injunction against Britannia Hotels this month and the case is due back in the High Court on Wednesday.


Tory, Labour and independent councillors came together to criticise the planned use of the hotel, saying: “This is a misuse of the hotel, which does not have permissions for this use, and does not promote inclusion. It is an outrage that the Government tells us who to house where.’”

East Riding of Yorkshire council won an interim High Court injunction against Humber View Hotel after complaints that its remote location made it unsuitable. The plan emerged when couples due to marry at the hotel, near North Ferriby, west of Hull, were told their bookings had been cancelled.

The injunction prevents plans to house asylum seekers until a hearing on November 7. It bans LGH Management and four other firms from using the hotel or any other in the East Riding area to accommodate asylum seekers.

A hotel four miles from Rishi Sunak’s constituency home could also be used to accommodate Channel migrants over the winter as part of emergency Home Office plans.

The Home Office is booking Allerton Court Hotel, a three-star hotel with 44 ensuite rooms in the quiet market town of Northallerton, North Yorkshire, which has a population of 16,000.

'Urgent concerns'

The hotel is a ten-minute drive from Sunak’s home, a grade II listed Georgian manor house, in his constituency of Richmond. The Home Office is close to signing a contract to book the hotel despite concerns raised by the local council about a lack of healthcare and other support services for asylum seekers.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents councils, said: “We have been raising increasingly urgent concerns with the Home Office on behalf of councils about the use of hotels for asylum seekers without adequate time for consulting or even sometimes informing the local council in advance.

“Councils understand the pressures in the system but it is vital that they are given notification.’

The Government is spending £6.8million a day on hotels for migrants. The Home Office said asylum seeker arrivals were at record levels, but admitted that using hotels to house them was “unacceptable” and “a short-term solution.”