A Stoke-on-Trent MP has blamed ‘abuse’ of the asylum system for the government’s decision to turn a second city hotel into a hostel. The Best Western Stoke-on-Trent City Centre Hotel, in Hanley, is set to be used as interim accommodation for asylum seekers, after a similar deal was previously agreed with the operators of the North Stafford Hotel, in Shelton.
On both occasions, the Home Office decided to use the hotels despite the objections of Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the city’s three MPs.
Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Jo Gideon now says there needs to be ‘lasting solutions’ to the ‘abuse of out asylum system’, and that ‘economic migrants’ should be sent ‘straight back’.
Local politicians have repeatedly pointed out that Stoke-on-Trent’s participation in the asylum dispersal scheme has meant that the city already hosts more asylum seekers than most other places in the UK.
The government has recently been under pressure to relocate asylum seekers to hotels from Manston asylum processing centre in Kent. Ms Gideon said after learning of the decision to use the Best Western hotel she contacted the Home Office to express her anger.
She said: “The Home Office response is to acknowledge that this is not a situation they are happy with, but that they have no choice, given the number of people they have to find temporary accommodation for. The process needs to be faster, and fewer people should be included in the system.”
Ms Gideon has also criticised the fact that more than half of the UK’s international aid budget is currently spent at home on accommodation for asylum seekers.
She added: “We need to invest more of the International Development budget on improving conditions of the poorest in the world so that they do not have to leave their homeland in search of a better life. At the same time, we need to be tough on the abuse of our asylum system by economic migrants.
“In the meantime, as the local Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central, I will continue to call for the Home Office to understand our concerns about the use of our local hotels and engage constructively in finding alternative solutions.”
Meanwhile, Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis has launched a petition on his website calling on the Home Office and its contractor Serco to stop using hotels in the city as asylum accommodation. He wants use of the hotels to be phased out over six months, with no further displacement of asylum seekers to Stoke-on-Trent. But now enough is enough.
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