Daily Mail

More asylum seekers sent to countrysid­e

Thousands to be housed in rural areas to ‘ensure fairness’

- By David Barrett Home Affairs Editor

THOUSANDS more asylum seekers will be sent to live in rural areas, the immigratio­n minister confirmed yesterday.

Robert Jenrick said migrants – including those who arrive by small boat across the Channel – would increasing­ly be accommodat­ed around the country to ‘ensure greater fairness’.

It comes after the Home Office was warned it could face thousands of compensati­on claims for unlawful detention by migrants who were housed for weeks in a processing centre in Manston, Kent.

Mr Jenrick told MPs: ‘We are... attempting to procure accommodat­ion in a much broader range of local authoritie­s than has been seen in the past. Historical­ly, the issue was centred on cities.

‘We are now seeking to procure accommodat­ion more broadly in smaller cities, towns, and indeed in some cases in rural areas.

‘That does mean, I am afraid, that as long as numbers are so high that more parts of the country experience this issue, but it does ensure greater fairness as to how, as a country, we tackle it.’

He was replying to Jonathan Gullis, Conservati­ve MP for Stokeon-Trent North, who claimed hotels in his area were being ‘dumped on’ with migrants by private contractor Serco.

At least 37,000 asylum seekers, most of whom arrived by small boat, are currently in hotel accommodat­ion – at a cost of £5.6 million a day. Mr Jenrick said last week he wanted to end the use of hotels and instead provide ‘ basic but decent’ accommodat­ion. It could see the constructi­on of large complexes like those in Germany and Greece.

It came as the owner of a country hotel rejected a £1 million offer from the Home Office to house Channel migrants, saying it would have destroyed his business.

Richard Martin, whose family have owned the Blazing Donkey near Sandwich in Kent for 30 years, said the Government’s proposal was ‘farcical, bordering on the offensive’.

It would have seen small-boat migrants block-booked in all of the hotel’s 27 rooms, including some boasting four-poster beds, luxury bathrooms and hot tubs which normally cost £275 a night.

Mr Martin said he was offered £1,080,000 for guaranteed 100 per cent occupancy for 12 months. ‘We have flogged our behinds off making this a good business, and so we were incensed at being contacted by this agency acting for the Home Office,’ he said.

‘In all, there are 25 employees on the regular payroll, rising to 50 with banqueting staff in the wedding season, and we would have had to lay most of them off. So we dismissed the offer out of hand.’

The hotelier added: ‘We would have had to disappoint 200- odd brides and grooms who have already booked us as their venue, and refund a quarter of a million in deposits overnight.

‘That was out of the question. I was insulted by it.’

Mr Martin added: ‘Just how they regard us as being suitable for asylum seekers is beyond me.

‘There are four-poster beds and hot tubs, so there doesn’t really seem to be any synergy there at all. Our reputation would have been shattered overnight.’

The Home Office declined to comment.

It came as four Albanian nationals were arrested after a ‘VIP’ migrant boat landed on a Kent beach. The grey rigid inflatable boat was found at St Margaret’s beach, near Dover, on Monday.

Small-scale vessels are used by smugglers to provide a bespoke service for clients willing to pay a larger sum to reach Britain.

They offer safer conditions than regular migrant boats, which are often overloaded.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed two people who drove away with two migrants from the boat were arrested the following day on suspicion of conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry.

‘Basic but decent accommodat­ion’

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 ?? ?? Insulted: Richard Martin, left, rejected a proposal to host migrants in his 27-room hotel in Kent
Insulted: Richard Martin, left, rejected a proposal to host migrants in his 27-room hotel in Kent

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