With debate over the Government’s migrant policy ragfing the county’s two MPs - Jesse Norman and Sir Bill Wiggin - have expressed their opposition to the imminent use of the Three Counties Hotel in Hereford to house asylum seekers.
The Belmont Road hotel closed on Friday and the first asylum seekers will arrive this week. There will be 24-hour security and the people living there will have access to local healthcare and any children can attend school.
In a Commons debate last week (March 7) on the Illegal Migration Bill intended to stop the “small boats” of migrants seeking asylum, Conservative MP for North Herefordshire Sir Bill Wiggin asked its proponent, Home Secretary Suella Braverman: “If moving people to Hereford is the solution, may I welcome everything that my right honourable and learned Friend has said.
“We British people have rights as well, so can she put her shoulder to the wheel for my constituents, too?”
Ms Braverman replied: “My honourable Friend is right—the British people’s famous sense of fair play and generosity has been tested beyond limit, which is why it is necessary to go further than we have gone before and make sure that we have a robust scheme in place that actually stops the boats.”
Sir Bill, who also pressed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to bring forward the Bill in the Commons two weeks ago, said afterwards: “I have been very clear and consistent that I object to the plan to temporarily house asylum seeker applicants at the Three Counties Hotel.
“Herefordshire does not have a council robust enough to support these extra people with their wide variety of needs.
“We need to provide proper well-resourced help to the genuine asylum seeker and remove those who are economic migrants who block up the system.
“We should not have a backlog of asylum seekers so big that we have to use hotels in Hereford to house them.”
Conservative MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire Jesse Norman said in recent weeks he has met with Home Office officials and immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, who has a large house in Herefordshire, and has also written “in strong terms” to Home Secretary over the issue.
According to Herefordshire Council, the hotel owners have signed a 12-month contract with the Home Office.
“Herefordians will always want to do the right thing, and over the last few years this county has stepped forward to support refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine,” he said.
“But it is also essential to consider the impact on vital local public services that are already highly stretched.
“It is a great disappointment that the Home Office has decided to press ahead, and on this very rapid timescale, without any detailed analysis of its own, and despite the clear and convincing contrary evidence that we have presented.”