A HOTEL on the site of Oxfordshire’s Kassam Stadium is being used to house asylum seekers – sparking a row after police forces and local authorities were not informed.

This comes as the number of people arriving in the UK reaches ‘record levels’ leading to the Manston detention centre in Kent becoming overcrowded earlier this month.

As a result, about 2,500 people have been moved out into hotels across the country including branches of Holiday Inns.

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The Holiday Inn Express in Grenoble Road is now being used as temporary accommodation for refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

According to the Home Office, the cost of accommodating asylum seekers in hotels is £5.6million a day and the cost of accommodating Afghans in bridging hotels is £1.2million a day.

However the Home Office, which has been arranging accommodation for refugees, did not consult Oxford City Council about the use of the hotel prior to people arriving.

The authority and Asylum Welcome, an organisation helping asylum seekers in Oxfordshire, has criticised the Government body for the ‘poor planning’.

 Councillor Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council, said: “We are very concerned that the Home Office are placing vulnerable migrants in local hotels without any consultation with local authorities and police forces.

“The city and county councils and our local police force are critical to providing support services and community reassurance.

“We have repeatedly asked the Home Office to liaise with us if they intend to place refugees and asylum seekers in our local community so we can help plan for their arrival.

“We will continue to try to engage with the Home Office because we want a constructive conversation on how best we can work together.

“Refugees have a legal right to asylum. In Oxford we are proud to be a City of Sanctuary and are ready to play our part in helping refugees rebuild their lives in safety.

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“We have seen in recent years the city welcoming refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. I would like to thank all those council staff, Asylum Welcome, our local Mosques and all the other local volunteers who have stepped up to quickly provide support and welcome to those arriving in our city.”

 An Oxford City Council spokesperson added: “We want to reassure residents that there is a strong local partnership working to provide the right support for those accommodated in the hotel as well as the local community.

“We have recent experience in providing such support following the arrivals of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

“We are working with local partners including the police, the County Council and Asylum Welcome, and will continue to seek more information from the Home Office on the services they are providing and their expectations for local support.”

A spokesman for the Home Office 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.

 “The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – 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.”

They added that the Home Office does not comment on operational arrangements for individual sites used for asylum accommodation but stated that the Government does ‘engage with local authorities as early as possible whenever sites are used for asylum accommodation’.  

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It stated that hotels are a ‘short-term solution to the global migration crisis’ and that they ‘urge local authorities to do all they can to help house people permanently’.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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