A BARNSLEY MP has slammed the Home Office after it extended its exclusive contract with a local hotel to house asylum seekers until October 2023 – without any community consultation.
Holiday Inn’s Express branch, on Manvers Way, Wath-upon-Dearne, will continue to be used, according to the Home Office, having previously accommodated Afghan families.
John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, has invited the senior Home Office director in London to visit the site this month so she can see for herself the problems with the Manvers location.
He said: “I am extremely disappointed to be told that the Home Office have extended the exclusive contract with the Holiday Inn at Manvers for another year, until October 2023.
“Once again, this is a decision that has been taken without consultation with our local community, council or agencies and it goes against what the government said back in March, that this would be a ‘temporary’ use.”
Following the contract extension, John has written to the Home Secretary and fixed a face-to-face meeting with the immigration minister, where he will press him to undertake a six-month review of the new contract and release the hotel again for commercial guests.
“When I met the hotel owners in the summer, I made clear the strength of local feeling over getting the hotel back open to the public,” he added.
“They confirmed in that discussion, and again now when they told me about the extended Home Office contract, that ‘the longer-term plan is to operate Holiday Inn Express, Rotherham very much as a hotel facility and support tourism in the area’.
“They have also given a clear undertaking to invest in refurbishing the hotel prior to re-opening it as a Holiday Inn Express again. “I am determined to hold them to this.”
In his letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman MP, John described the extension as ‘unwelcome’ and shared four reservations.
The first is the suitability of the Manvers area, the second is community cohesion and the prospect of local far-right groups, the lack of capacity for health needs and the lack of BAME groups in the area.
He added the use of hotels as accommodation for those seeking asylum – around 130 in Manvers – is a ‘direct result of a failing and unfair asylum system’.
“The government has lost control of people crossing the channel and the House of Commons Library figures confirm that the number entering the UK in small boats has risen from 1,843 in 2019 to more than 28,000 in 2021,” he said.
“This year number are already even higher.
“Meanwhile, as the Home Office is taking longer to process asylum applications, the backlog has tripled in the last four years with a total of 109,735 asylum seekers stuck in the system awaiting a decision at the end of March.”