Asylum seekers accommodated in “unsuitable” hotels in Falkirk

Council leaders denounced the UK Home Office’s decision to use the hotel, saying it was totally “inappropriate”.

They say that partners in health, social assistance, housing and the third sector support their point of view.

The asylum seekers, believed to be all male and primarily from Eritrea in East Africa, have been in Falkirk for about six weeks.

Falkirk Council Chief Cecil Meiklejohn expressed concerns over the adequacy of hotel accommodation for asylum seekers

The move comes as the Home Office expands its use of hotel accommodation in Scotland, with properties in Aberdeen and Perth also ready for use.

They were placed by Mears, the private contractor who houses asylum seekers for the Home Office.

At the start of the pandemic, asylum seekers were staying in hotels in Glasgow as an emergency measure.

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However, following a stabbing incident at one of the city’s hotels last year which left six injured, no new asylum seekers have been taken away by Glasgow.

The Home Office, which provides free accommodation to asylum seekers whose claims are under review, said Glasgow is the only region to have participated in the dispersal program since it began two decades ago .

Falkirk council chief Cecil Meiklejohn said that although the region had a “proud tradition” of accepting refugees, it was concerned about the lack of consultation with the Home Office.

She added that while understanding the pressure on the Home Office with the arrival of increasing numbers of asylum seekers, she was concerned that lessons had not been learned from Glasgow.

It is understood that the local authority was not seized of the decision until shortly before the arrival of asylum seekers in the district.

Cecil Meiklejohn, Head of the Falkirk Council, said: “We are concerned about the adequacy of accommodation for asylum seekers in hotels, the location of the hotel chosen and the lack of any meaningful consultation from the ministry. of the Interior with the council or one of the other public bodies. impacted by their decision.

“However, we will work with the Home Office and the company that manages the placements on their behalf to provide relevant support to those placed in the hotel. We have supported the planned relocation of refugees to Falkirk and continue to do so. Falkirk has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees and values ​​the contribution they have made to the region.

Kenneth Lawrie, Managing Director, said: “We would like to reiterate our serious doubts about the Home Office’s choice of hotel accommodation, which colleagues from the health, social services, housing and third sector sectors agree that it is not suitable for a long stay.

“The Home Office is aware of our concerns, which were raised following a very late notification.”

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said “other councils must also step up and play their role.”

They added: “Due to the lack of volunteers for the dispersal program, the Interior Ministry is forced to find emergency hotel accommodation to accommodate asylum seekers. Our new immigration plan will fix the failing system and aims to reform the asylum system to make it fair but firm, allowing us to offer support to those who need it most while returning those who do not. no real right to stay in UK.

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