Coventry Council take planning enforcement action to stop 'Migrant hostel' - The Coventry Observer

Coventry Council take planning enforcement action to stop 'Migrant hostel'

Coventry Editorial 8th Feb, 2023 Updated: 9th Feb, 2023   0

PLANNING enforcement action has been taken by Coventry City Council to prevent the Home Office from housing more than 100 asylum seekers in the empty Quadrant Hall.

The government’s contractor, Serco, had struck a deal to use the privately owned hall on Manor House Drive as a hostel to provide accommodation for asylum seekers.

However, the council said it fears those placed at Quadrant Hall won’t have the necessary support which could place added pressure on ‘already over-stretched local resources.’

Coun David Welsh, whose portfolio also covers planning and asylum seekers, said: “The decision to use our legal planning powers to stop the arrival of asylum seekers to Quadrant House was not taken lightly but we believe we were left with no alternative.

“Serco already uses three city hotels to provide temporary accommodation and we believe that being made to have more is disproportionate for a city our size.

“Specialist health services are already struggling to support and manage the demand from those in existing hotels and further arrivals will require the commissioning of additional health provision, for which the source of funding is unclear.

“I cannot stress enough that the issue we have is not with the people that would be placed at Quadrant Hall, many of whom are fleeing terrible circumstances that we can barely imagine.

“Our issue is with the unfair Home Office system that sees cities like Coventry take far more than our share, placing adding pressure on an already overstretched local support system with no recurring funding to help pay for it.”

He added the decision to use the building as a hostel was taken without consultation with the city council.

“It is not clear how long it will be used for or what services, if any, will be available to support those living there.”

The legal planning notice prevents Serco from placing people at Quadrant Hall for an initial 28 days, with the reasoning being that the building’s use is being changed to a hostel, which it does not have permission to be used for.

Coun Welsh added: “As a city, we are proud of our record of welcoming migrants and asylum seekers, but all parts of the country must step forward and play their part as currently Coventry and the West Midlands take a disproportionate amount.

“Only last year Coventry, along with seven other West Midlands councils, sought a judicial review against the Home Office over its dispersal policy – or moreover a lack of a coherent one.

“This was paused as the Home Office told the High Court that they had a new policy that would be fairer, but actions speak louder than words and there is little evidence that this is the case, meaning we may have to revisit the Judicial Review process.”

A government spokesperson said: “The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels due to the unacceptable rise in small boat arrivals and our commitment to accommodate those from Afghanistan.

“Every day the hotel bill for accommodating more than 45,500 asylum seekers and over 9,200 Afghans is £6.8 million and the British public rightly expect that we reduce these costs as quickly as possible.

“We therefore continue to look at all available options to source appropriate and cost-effective temporary accommodation.”

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