Concerns over long term use of Peterborough's Great Northern Hotel as asylum seekers' refuge raised in the House of Commons

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Immigration Minister vows action as ‘quickly as possible’ over use of historic hotel

Concerns are growing a long term contract could be awarded to Peterborough’s Great Northern Hotel to be used as a hostel for asylum seekers.

It comes after about 80 male asylum seekers were moved into the 41-bedroom hotel on Friday evening.

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It is understood the arrangement between the Home Office and the hotel is a rolling temporary contract.

A notice on the door of the Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough informs visitors that it is closed to the public.A notice on the door of the Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough informs visitors that it is closed to the public.
A notice on the door of the Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough informs visitors that it is closed to the public.

But Peterborough City Council and Peterborough MP Paul Bristow say the 170-year-old hotel, which stands opposite Peterborough Train Station and sits in the middle of the £70 million Station Quarter regeneration area, is inappropriate for housing asylum seekers.

And they highlight the fact that Peterborough already accommodates 300 asylum seekers and that The Verve hotel in Boongate has also just been taken over for asylum seekers.

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow raised his concerns today (November 16) in the House of Commons where he quizzed Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick on the criteria for awarding long term contracts to hotels to act as refuges for asylum seekers.

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Mr Bristow said: “Peterborough is a caring city and supports more asylum seekers than any other town or city in the East of England.

"In the past week, two small hotels have been stood up to accommodate single men who crossed the Channel in small boats.

“One in particular, the Great Northern Hotel, is most inappropriate.

“Will the Minister outline the criteria by which the Home Office will award longer term contracts for hotel accommodation?

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“And will he listen to me, my local council, the local police, the local health support services, a local refugee charity about why the Great Northern Hotel in particular is so inappropriate?”

In reply, Mr Jenrick: said he knew that Mr Bristow had been ‘campaigning vociferously’ on the issue and was ‘deeply concerned’.

He said: “We want to ensure we can move as quickly as possible, and as quickly as legally possible, to assist him where we apply sensible criteria, including ensuring prominent business hotels, such as the Great Northern, are not chosen to house asylum seekers and instead we are choosing ones which provide decent but good value for money accommodation in appropriate places.”

The council is currently waiting for a date for a court hearing to stop the Great Northern Hotel being used as a hostel for asylum seekers.

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A spokesperson said: “We have taken enforcement action not just because our own resources to help genuine asylum seekers are stretched to the limit, but because of the risks to strategic infrastructure of our city and the UK due to the hotel’s location.”

But Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the city, Andrew Pakes said: “The cause of this problem is that the Government are only processing four per cent of asylum applications so that there is now this growing backlog that needs accommodation.”

A Home Office spokesperson 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.

“There are currently more than 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6million a day.

"The use of hotels is a short-term solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation.”