West Northamptonshire Council disappointed with Home Office contingency hotel decisionCommunity, safety and emergencies
23 December 2022
West Northamptonshire Council has expressed significant concerns to the Home Office over its decision to temporarily house up to 400 additional asylum seekers in the area, which has already welcomed many refugees, and as services already in high demand, face increasing pressure.
In early December the Home Office informed the council of its intention to use a former hotel as a fourth site for asylum contingency accommodation in West Northants, with the possibility of it becoming operational at the start of January.
The council and its residents have welcomed many asylum seekers over the recent months and currently supports the largest number of hotel guests in the East Midlands. While we are proud of this record it is because of this that we expressed our concerns over the unsuitability of the proposed location and the added strain that providing access to essential services would place on already-stretched health, education and social care.
Proposed timescales also added to concerns, not allowing sufficient time to ensure basic statutory services are in place to support the move.
The council has consistently made its concerns and objections clear to Home Office representatives but these have been disregarded.
With the new influx of migrants, there will be more than 1,000 staying in hotel accommodation across West Northamptonshire. This includes 250 Afghan guests across 2 hotels, with the remainder in four of the Government’s Asylum Contingency accommodation. In addition, around 500 Ukrainian refugees, who also need access to local services, are staying with hosts in the area.
The location of the latest hotel means there are 3 in very close proximity to each other, creating several issues including:
- incredible pressure on a single primary care network, which looks after the GP practices already covering 2 of the hotels
- capacity issues in local schools already struggling to keep up with demand
- additional strain on adult social care which is already struggling with unprecedented demand
- irregular public transport, with the closest hospital nine miles away.
“The Home Office has decided to use a further hotel within our area to house asylum seekers.Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of West Northamptonshire Council.
"We have expressed significant concerns about this move, due to the unsuitable location and the impact that a fourth asylum contingency hotel would have on services such as health, education and social care, already in high demand from all our residents.
"We’re incredibly proud that West Northamptonshire has welcomed many families and individuals fleeing persecution and conflict into our area through our resettlement schemes, and residents tell us that they are too. But it’s only right that we have sufficient resources in place to meet their essential needs and help make the best of their situation.
"This latest decision by the Home Office has placed services in our area under unreasonable and unsustainable pressure.
"This is not acceptable when there are other areas with nowhere close to same kind of commitment, and we will continue to make representation to the Home Office over this issue in the hope that they recognise that fact and completely re-think this."
Since the Government’s initial approach, the council has been engaging with local parishes, community and faith groups to see what support can be arranged in the event that the Government failed to listen.