Peterborough City Council considering new court action in bid to remove asylum seekers from Great Northern Hotel

MP renews call for Home Office timetable to end use of hotels for asylum seekers
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Council chiefs are close to deciding on whether to use planning powers to remove asylum seekers from Peterborough’s Great Northern Hotel.

Over the last eight weeks, officials have been involved in a fact-finding exercise they say will help them decide whether to pursue new legal action over an alleged change of use of the 170-year-old hotel in Station Approach.

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The move comes after about 80 male asylum seekers were moved into the hotel by the Home Office on November 11 last year.

Such use of the hotel has been opposed by the council and Peterborough MP Paul Bristow who says it is an inappropriate use of the hotel and poses a risk to key infrastructure.

The council withdrew an application to the High Court for an injunction against the hotel owners in November after the failure by other local authorities to secure court support to stop hotels in their areas being used for asylum seekers.

Then council officials said they would look to their planning powers to restore the Great Northern as a hotel but would ensure they had all the information necessary to demonstrate a material change of use and to fully evidence concerns about a breach of planning rules. They said a decision on returning to court would be made at the end of January.

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The council’s hesitation over further court action comes as Peterborough MP Paul Bristow renewed his call to the Home Office to draw up a timetable detailing when use of hotels for asylum seekers will end.

The Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough.The Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough.
The Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough.

Mr Bristow told the House of Commons: “Can (Immigration minister Robert Jenrick) guarantee that... there will be a timeframe so we can give certainty to the police, support services and the people of Peterborough?

Mr Jenrick said: “The Great Northern Hotel is ingrained in my mind as a result of the assiduous lobbying (Mr Bristow) has made, and that’s quite right because we share his frustration.

"We want to see hotels like that return to use by the local community and for the benefit of the economy.

"I’ll write back to him setting out our plans as far as we can at this stage.”