Local campaigners, backed by Steve Reed MP, have forced the Home Office to remove 791 asylum seekers placed without warning in the Queens Hotel, Crystal Palace. Dozens of local people contacted Steve worried about the lack of appropriate support for the asylum seekers, many traumatised by experiences in war zones only to be crammed up to nine-to-a-room in the hotel.
The Home Office block-booked the entire hotel for four months without consultation, planning or preparation. Following outrage in the national media the Home Office relocated the asylum seekers, but there are still big questions to answer.
Croydon North MP Steve Reed has discovered that the hotel’s new owner also owns the notorious Gilroy Court Hotel in Croydon. This hotel was exposed by the BBC and local press for the squalid conditions homeless families suffered after being placed there. An environmental health officer described it as “damp, dingy and totally inadequate” with evidence of vermin, overcrowding and fire risks. One resident described conditions there as “inhuman” while another was covered in sores from an infested bed leading Government ministers to condemn conditions in the hotel as ‘clearly unacceptable’. Despite all this, the Home Office has entered into a four-month contract worth hundreds of thousands of pounds with the same hotel owner.
Steve Reed MP said: “The Tory Immigration Minister must explain why he has let the Home Office do business with a landlord with such a shocking track record. Local people want to know whether the hotel will be used for this purpose again, whether there will be any cap on numbers to prevent overcrowding, and whether the money paid to block-book the hotel for four months was paid back after the asylum seekers were removed early.
“Crystal Palace is a diverse and welcoming place and people are keen to support genuine asylum seekers, but there are real concerns about cramming so many vulnerable people into a single hotel without adequate support available for them or the local community. The Home Office must explain what safeguards they have in place to avoid placing asylum seekers with slum landlords.”