Sixth council takes legal action to stop asylum seekers being housed in a hotel

A sixth local authority is taking legal action to stop the Government using a hotel to house asylum seekers.

North Northamptonshire Council wants to prevent migrants being accommodated at the Royal Hotel in Kettering.

The authority applied to the High Court for an emergency injunction and is considering its next steps after this was dismissed.

Council leader Jason Smithers said: “We do not feel that the Royal Hotel in Kettering is the appropriate place to accommodate asylum seekers for a number of reasons.

“We do not feel the proposals have been properly considered to ensure the best possible welfare can be provided to asylum seekers and the local communities in which they are housed.

Cabinet meeting
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is under pressure to tackle the migrant crisis (Aaron Chown/PA)

“We are now considering our options in light of the injunction’s dismissal by the High Court.”

The council said the proposal for migrants to be housed at the hotel was brought to its attention on October 27.

It said it was provided with further details including a “mobilisation date, a day before the date of mobilisation”.

A spokesman said: “Emergency injunction applications are considered by the court without notice to the defendants and without the ability for them to make representations until a later date.

“The court determined that they did not want to consider the application on this basis and that all parties should instead be given an opportunity to be heard at the outset.

“The application was therefore dismissed on this basis; the merits of the application were not considered.

“The council is considering whether it should make a further application for an injunction on notice and is awaiting the outcomes of other local authorities who have also taken legal action.

“It is also continuing to try and seek further confirmation from the Home Office’s contractor on key information which will help the council to support the housing of asylum seekers in suitable accommodation in North Northamptonshire.”

Five other local authorities are also taking legal action: East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Stoke City Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and Fenland District Council.

Two of the local authorities – East Riding of Yorkshire and Ipswich Borough – argued their case at a High Court hearing on Tuesday.

It was said on their behalf that there had been an “unauthorised material change of use” under planning rules through the Home Office’s attempts to book accommodation in Hull and Ipswich for asylum seekers, and advocates asked for previously granted injunctions to be extended.

But lawyers representing one of the hotel companies told the court that the Government is currently paying for empty rooms at its property because of the legal action.

The judge said he hopes to give his decision on the councils’ applications later this week.

It comes as Rishi Sunak told the Commons that he and Home Secretary Suella Braverman are working “day and night” to end “the unacceptable rise in Channel crossings”.

The Prime Minister gave Conservative former minister Maggie Throup an “absolute cast-iron commitment that we want to get to grips with this problem” after she called for him to commit to an “immediate reduction in asylum seekers concentrated in one place”.

Ms Throup said: “Despite a productive meeting with the immigration minister yesterday, the Home Office continues to house over 400 asylum seekers in two neighbouring hotels in my constituency”, and asked for Mr Sunak to “intervene” to permanently close accommodation centres there.

Mr Sunak said: “She has my reassurance that the Home Secretary and I are working day and night to resolve this problem, not just to end the use of expensive contingency accommodation, but for more fundamental reform so that we can finally get to grips with this issue, protect our borders and end illegal migration.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan became the latest minister to defend Ms Braverman as Mr Sunak continued to face questions over her reappointment.

Ms Keegan told BBC Breakfast: “I think Suella’s got a really difficult job.

“I mean, anybody trying to handle the small boat crisis with the massive increase in numbers and this market – this organised crime, actually, that is building this market of people and selling dreams and delivering nightmares to people – anyone having to deal with that is going to face challenges.”

She added that Ms Braverman had now got the problems with overcrowding at Manston “completely under control”, adding: “That’s what she’s achieved.”

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain was looking to do “a lot more” with France in tackling Channel crossings as officials thrash out the final details of a new deal.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “I hope there is a deal but fundamentally that’s for the Home Office and the Prime Minister, it’s not something I see on a day-to-day basis across my desk and it’s early days.

“Obviously we always want to work closely with France, France is probably our closest European defence ally, we’re looking to do more and more together.

“I spoke this morning with my French counterpart and obviously there’s a lot of work to do in Africa, where we’re trying to see off extremism and terrorism, or whether that’s indeed on the continent of Europe and around the world.

“We can do more together, I’m sure, and part of that obviously is cross-government deals around boats in the Channel.”

The number of people at the Manston migrant processing centre in Kent was down to 1,147 as of 8am on Wednesday, Home Office minister Lord Murray of Blidworth told the House of Lords.

Last week more than 4,000 people were being held at the site – at least double its 1,600 capacity.