Southport MP Damien Moore has requested more information from Sefton Council following the announcement that asylum seekers have been designated temporary accommodation at a Southport town centre hotel during the coronavirus lockdown.
The plans would see approximately 150 asylum seekers housed at the Scarisbrick Hotel on Lord Street.
In March, it was reported that Britannia Hotels, which owns sites including The Prince Of Wales Hotel and Pontins in Southport as well as Liverpool’s Adelphi Hotel, had offered its rooms to the NHS for use as emergency extra hospital accommodation amid the looming coronavirus crisis.
The sites were among businesses including shops, restaurants and bars which the government ordered to close at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak.
Amongst the concerns raised by Southport’s MP are access to healthcare, support through their transition to living in the United Kingdom and living conditions during the coronavirus lockdown.
Damien Moore also raised concerns around the length of time they would be expected to stay in the hotel whilst respecting the importance of self-isolation during the lockdown period.
He said: “I have every sympathy for people who are fleeing their homeland to escape persecution and we rightly should help them. Southport has a long and proud history of supporting those who are fleeing persecution.
“ It is not practical however to place almost 150 asylum seekers in a single hotel – during this period of lockdown – with no realistic timeframe of when they will be housed or integrated into our community. The government has announced that some limitations could remain in place for a while longer and I share the concern for the welfare of those asylum seekers who may be restricted for months to come.
“I am also concerned by the lack of information that has been made available to the local authorities by Serco. The decision to accommodate 150 asylum seekers will have a significant impact on both council and police resources when the focus of our efforts is rightly centred on fighting the coronavirus during this period. No doubt this was something Serco considered when placing such a significant number of people in our town.”
On their website, Serco said: We have provided housing and support for asylum seekers in the community in the UK since 2012 ensuring safety and respect to some of the most vulnerable people in society while they await news on their immigration status.
“We maintain constant links with those in our care by giving them a well-known human point of contact to which they can turn if they need help. We also ‘sign-post’ asylum seekers to relevant local authority and voluntary welfare, education, and health services so that they can get wider support whilst their asylum claim is assessed.
“We manage an extensive property portfolio, reducing the cost to the government by integrating hundreds of landlords into one property portfolio.”
Southport (Dukes Ward) Conservative Councillor Sir Ron Watson CBE said: “Damien has outlined in a very practical and pragmatic manner why the agreement between Britannia Hotels, who own the Scarisbrick, and those responsible for finding accommodation for asylum seekers are very valid but also very troubling.
“ To transfer such a significant number of people and take over one of our most prominent hotels right in the middle of our town centre is something which it is very difficult to even attempt to justify, especially under the current circumstances.
“ With the current restrictions on travel, the logistical arrangements are very difficult to envisage and are bound to put a strain on services that are already hard pressed.
“ I am sure that all those councillors representing the area will support our MP who I know is working very hard to obtain a sensible solution.”
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