THE director of an organisation helping asylum seekers in Oxfordshire said refugees in the hotel on the site of the Kassam Stadium ‘did not receive the welcome they deserve’.

The Home Office has housed refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine in The Holiday Inn Express in Grenoble Road temporarily sparking rows with local authorities who were not informed prior.

Organisation Asylum Welcome has criticised the Government body for the ‘poor planning’.

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The accommodation move 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 county including branches of Holiday Inns.

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.

Mark Goldring, director of Asylum Welcome, said ‘it is absolutely right’ that Oxford should play a part in housing asylum seekers but added that the Home Office has prioritised ‘politics over practicality’.

“For too long they’ve been housed in certain parts of the country,” he said. “So it’s right places with low refugee populations should play a part.

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“We’re keen to support the Home Office in doing that. However, we think the planning for this certain group of asylum refugees that have arrived has been extremely poor.

“The fact people were arriving as the council found out about it is not the welcome that people deserve.”

Mr Goldring added that the organisation is now working with local authorities to assist the refugees in ‘whatever way they can’.

“The real issue is the failing of the Home Office to organise with the councils and local organisations,” he said.

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.”

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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’. 


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:

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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