Great Yarmouth seafront hotels cannot be used to house asylum seekers
A High Court judge has ruled that seafront hotels in Great Yarmouth cannot be used to house asylum seekers.
Judge Holgate issued an ongoing injunction meaning Serco is barred from using hotels in the Norfolk resort to house migrants on behalf of the Home Office.
Brandon Lewis, the city’s MP, described the move as a “victory for common sense.”
The council had obtained an injunction after Serco planned to use the Villa Rose Hotel as emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council argued that seafront hotels fell under a special planning guideline from the council, which prevented them from being used as hostels rather than hotels, and therefore could not be used as temporary accommodation for refugees.
The policy was put in place to protect the city’s tourism industry so its 59 hotels could be used for vacationers.
“Planning policy was not taken into account”
Mr Justice Holgate said he would allow the injunction granted by another High Court judge to stand, adding: “The location of the hotel within the seafront policy area is important.
“The evidence from the Home Office and Serco indicates that the planning guidelines were not considered to determine whether the site is in an area subject to strong and clear development control to result in a planning control breach.”
He added that asylum seekers had been accommodated in other hotels in Great Yarmouth that were not within the area covered by the council’s policy.
“The hotel would be closed to the general public in terms of both accommodation and restaurant,” he said. “There would be little or no spending by asylum seekers in the city, which strikes me as a particularly relevant factor.”
Council praised for “courageous leadership”.
A spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said the council was “pleased” that the importance of planning policy had been recognised.
“We look forward to the opportunity to fully advance our case and ensure these hotels in the most important and sensitive part of this coastal city are protected and can continue to contribute to our vital tourism economy,” the spokesman said.
“It is important to emphasize that we have repeatedly encouraged the Ministry of the Interior and its agents Serco to enter into a dialogue with us so that we can help find more suitable places for the temporary accommodation of asylum seekers. Regardless of today’s decision, we remain open to an informed and constructive dialogue.”
Mr Lewis said: “This is a clear victory for common sense. It is simply wrong to damage tourist areas by confiscating hotels used to house asylum seekers while their applications are being processed. This directive does not solve the problem, it only creates a new one.”
He said it took the county council and Carl Smith, its chairman, “bold leadership” to initiate the legal action.