Government responds to criticism towards its plans to house up to 400 asylum seekers in village near Northampton
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The Home Office told West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) in December that it plans to use the former Highgate House Hotel in the village of Creaton as a fourth site for asylum contingency accommodation, with Serco set to manage the contract.
WNC says the plans “make no sense” and Creaton residents say they are “frightened” and “concerned”. The two parties have since been campaigning to prevent asylum seekers moving in.
Their concerns mainly revolve around the “unsuitable” location, the already overwhelmed local provisions, the isolated rural area, the lack of public transport and the possibility that the 400 asylum seekers could be a cohort of young men.
Two meetings have been held so far this year at Creaton Village Hall where residents, representatives from WNC, representatives for local MP Chris Heaton-Harris and Northamptonshire Police have met to discuss the plans... but no-one from the Home Office or Serco have attended, much to the villagers' dismay.
Liberal Democrat councillor Jonathan Harris (Brixworth ward) said: "There is still a great deal of anger, understandably, but unfortunately often misdirected with the council team and the police getting the brunt of it.
"The Home Office has abjectly failed to communicate with the council on this matter. Even now, they are not attending meetings with officers. It is really important that people understand that this is a Government decision – it’s their imposition."
This newspaper has since gone to the Home Office for comment, asking if it would like to respond to WNC's criticism that the plans “make no sense” and whether it will provide funding to support the local authority.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain.
“The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently more than 45,500 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6 million a day.
“We engage with local authorities as early as possible whenever sites are used for asylum accommodation and work to ensure arrangements are safe for hotel residents and local people.”