Villagers near Northampton 'frightened' over government's plan to house up to 400 asylum seekers at former hotel

"We are a caring community, it's just the numbers frightening us."
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Residents in a village near Northampton say they are 'frightened' of a potential 400 asylum seekers being temporarily accommodated at a nearby hotel.

In early December the Home Office informed West Northants Council (WNC) of its intention to use the former Highgate House Hotel in the village of Creaton, which has recently been sold to new owners, as a fourth site for asylum contingency accommodation, with the possibility of it becoming operational at the start of January.

The former Highgate House Hotel, which as recently been sold to new owners, could be used as accommodation for up to 400 asylum seekersThe former Highgate House Hotel, which as recently been sold to new owners, could be used as accommodation for up to 400 asylum seekers
The former Highgate House Hotel, which as recently been sold to new owners, could be used as accommodation for up to 400 asylum seekers

A meeting was held at Creaton Village Hall on Tuesday afternoon (January 3) to discuss the situation, which was attended by over 50 locals, a WNC spokesman, representatives for Chris Heaton-Harris MP, local councillors, and a Northamptonshire Police spokesman.

The general feeling among residents and WNC is that the hotel is an unsuitable place for the migrants due to already mounting pressure on local provisions including Northampton General Hospital, primary and secondary schools, GPs and transportation.

The WNC spokesman criticised the Conservative Government’s plans, which could see either asylum seeker families move in or single men.

"They (Home Office) have not consulted us, they have done it to us. We are being badly treated and through Chris Heaton Harris we need to make as much noise as we can," the spokesman said.

"You couldn't pick a worse location to put 400 people - slap bang in the middle of a village.

"The decision has been very much out of our control.

"It's absolutely unacceptable. He (Chris Heaton-Harris) continues to have phone calls with Robert Jenrick (Minister for Immigration at the Home Office)."

Residents were angry that there was no spokespeople from Serco or the Home Office, with Chris Heaton Harris only sending representatives on his behalf.

One resident said: "The Home Office is treating us with abject disdain. We talk about democracy, they should have the decency to come and talk to us and give us answers.

"This is a shambolic process."

Chris Heaton Harris said in a press release released on Tuesday: "As soon as I heard that this was being proposed I contacted both the minister responsible and Home Office officials to tell them that Highgate House is a totally unsuitable location to place so many...migrants. I gave a long list of reasons why, some of which were raised in Creaton today.

"However, it seems the Home Office has decided it needs to utilise Highgate House; a decision I struggle to understand.

"For full transparency, Highgate House will likely be in use from early 2023. I will update residents as soon as the Home Office provide an exact date, however I received an update today from the Home Office confirming that they are undertaking a further consultation before moving asylum seekers onto the site."

The MP urged residents to voice their concerns via an online consultation, which can be viewed here.

One resident said: "We are a caring community, it's just the numbers frightening us."

Another asked if there had been any feedback from other areas in West Northants which have been selected to house asylum seekers, like the village of Crick.

There are currently 163 asylum seekers staying at the Ibis Rugby East hotel, close to junction 18 on the M1 and about a mile-and-a-half from Crick.

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: "When I went to speak to the people of Crick, the perception of crime was a lot higher than what was actually happening."

However the officer went on to say: "There is clearly community cohesion issues around moving individuals into a westernised society."

Another meeting is planned for 7.30pm on Tuesday, January 10 at Creaton Village Hall.