Great Yarmouth seafront hotels cannot be used to accommodate asylum seekers

Great Yarmouth – Alexey_Fedoren/iStockphoto

A High Court judge has ruled that seaside hotels in Great Yarmouth cannot be used to house asylum seekers.

Judge Holgate granted a pending injunction meaning Serco, under contract to the Home Office, would not be able to use hotels in the Norfolk resort town to house migrants.

Brandon Lewis, MP for the city, described the decision as a “victory for common sense”.

The council had obtained a temporary injunction after Serco planned to use the Villa Rose hotel as emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council argued that hotels on the seafront were covered by a specific council planning policy which prevented them from being used as hostels rather than hotels, and therefore should not be used as temporary accommodation for refugees.

He said the policy was put in place to protect the city’s tourism industry so that its 59 hotels could be used for holidaymakers.

“No consideration was given to planning policies”

Judge Holgate said he would allow the interim injunction granted by another High Court judge to stand, adding: ‘The location of the hotel in the seafront political area is significant.

“It is clear from the evidence from the Home Office and Serco that no consideration has been given to planning policies to see if the site is in an area under strong and clear development control, so result in a planning control violation.”

He added that the asylum seekers had been accommodated in other hotels in Great Yarmouth which were not within the area covered by the council’s policy.

“The hotel would be closed to the general public, both in terms of accommodation and catering,” he said. “There would be little or no spending by asylum seekers in the city, which seems to me to be a particularly relevant factor.”

Council hailed for ‘courageous leadership’

A spokesperson for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said the council was “pleased” that the importance of the planning policy had been recognised.

“We look forward to the opportunity to fully advocate our cause, ensuring that these hotels in the most important and sensitive part of this seaside town are protected and can continue to contribute to our vital tourist economy. “said the spokesperson.

“It is important to stress that we have repeatedly encouraged the Home Office and its Serco agents to engage in dialogue with us so that we can help identify more suitable places to temporarily house asylum seekers. Whatever the decision today, we remain open to an informed and constructive dialogue.

Mr Lewis said: ‘It’s a clear victory for common sense. It is simply wrong to undermine tourist areas by commandeering hotels to house asylum seekers while their claims are being processed. This policy does not solve the problem, it just creates another one.

He said it took “brave leadership” from the borough council and Carl Smith, its leader, to pursue the legal action.

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