On Thursday afternoon, I was asked for comment by a member of the press who had heard that a hotel in Quorn was to be used to house asylum seekers on behalf of the Home Office.
I was deeply concerned by this news and I have since contacted the Home Office decision maker, the Minister for Immigration and the Prime Minister asking for urgent clarity on the situation. I also detailed my strong objections to this proposal on the following grounds:
- In his speech on 13th December 2022, the Prime Minister stated he would insist that different venues would be used to house migrants, rather than hotels. He went on to say that “it is unfair and appalling that we are spending £5.5 million every day on using hotels to house asylum seekers. We must end this. We will shortly bring forward a range of alternative sites, such as disused holiday parks, former student halls and surplus military sites. These sites will accommodate 10,000 people, and we are in active discussions to secure them and many more. Our aim is to add thousands of places through this type of accommodation in the coming months, at half the cost of hotels”. Furthermore, in response to my colleague, the Member of Parliament for Ipswich, the Prime Minister stated that he shares “the frustration of my hon. Friend and his constituents that their local hotel, like so many others, is currently being used to house illegal migrants. That is wrong and we want to stop it as quickly as we can.” To me, “stop it as quickly as we can” means that no further hotels will be opening up, and using this Quorn hotel in this way was clearly not already contracted at the time of the Prime Minister’s comments. It is, therefore, unacceptable that the word of the Prime Minister is not being followed and it is not fair that local residents, as taxpayers, will have to continue to foot the bill for hotels when cheaper alternatives can be found. This is a point I have made a number of times over the past few months both in the House of Commons Chamber, and in meetings and correspondence.
- Two hotels in Loughborough are already being used to house asylum seekers which is putting considerable strain on local authority and police budgets, as well as on local services. The situation is not financially sustainable and will inevitably lead to savings having to be made elsewhere, to the detriment of local residents and existing asylum seekers already being housed here.
- Quorn, being a small village, is a completely inappropriate location to house asylum seekers, and this hotel, being in the centre of the village, even more so. Given its location and that it frequently hosts functions such as weddings, conferences and business meetings, the hotel plays a crucial role in the local hospitality sector, providing accommodation to many tourists and visitors throughout the year, which the seven pubs and five restaurants rely on. Hospitality businesses across the village are only just starting to recover from an incredibly difficult few years during the pandemic. It would be unacceptable to reduce the potential client base of the whole village at such a crucial time, which would subsequently impact on the hotel’s own client base in future years.
Following my correspondence, I received a phone call from the Home Office, which I asked to be put in writing. I received the following email on Friday afternoon:
“No decisions have been taken on the Quorn hotel. No contracts have been signed with the Home Office. I have confirmed this with Serco.
We will aim to take a view on whether the Quorn hotel is a viable site in the next day or so. Clearly, we will reflect on your comments and those from [the council] and others. If we do think it is worth exploring further, we will then reach out to you and other colleagues to meet and discuss the specific concerns you and they may have. Once that engagement is complete, we will then take a formal view on whether to go ahead.
Either way, we will be back in touch next week.
I hope that reassures you and other colleagues that before any new hotels are used there would be full and proper engagement.”
I note that Leicestershire Police and Charnwood Borough Council - both of whom are supportive of my position and have been very helpful throughout - have also contacted the Home Office with their concerns.
Should we get to the stage of consultation, I, and local partners, will be fully involved in this process and share not only my concerns, but also those of local residents who have contacted me. In the meantime, I will continue to put pressure on the Home Office and the Prime Minister to prevent this going ahead.