I am very glad that following my letter to the Home Secretary and parliamentary questions on the issue, the Government have reconsidered the decision to house these asylum seekers in Havering and they will no longer be using the Palms Hotel in Hornchurch.
I had no prior knowledge of this decision and was surprised and disappointed that it was taken without asking local people, Havering Council or myself what our views were on this matter. While the Hotel is not in my constituency, it neighbours onto Ardleigh Green and Gidea Park, and I was extremely concerned about the impact on constituents in those areas.
I therefore wrote to the Home Secretary, The Rt. Hon. Priti Patel M.P., to urge her to reconsider this decision, and explain why it was taken without any consultation with the local community or council. I also raised this issue in the House of Commons, submitting multiple parliamentary questions on the matter to the Home Secretary. Councillor Damian White, the Leader of Havering Council, and Julia Lopez M.P., the Member of Parliament for Hornchurch where Palms Hotel is located, were similarly blindsided by this decision, and wrote to the Home Secretary to express their concern.
I am very pleased that the Home Secretary has acted on these letters and the concerns of local residents, and that the decision to house asylum seekers at the Palms Hotel has been reversed. This means that those people who were to be housed at Palms Hotel have either left or will be moving out of the premises very shortly.
Ministers have informed that the reason they failed to consult with or inform the local community was because the decision to house asylum seekers here was going to be strictly temporary, and was only taken because of pressures on the system caused by the coronavirus. However, I still believe that this was not the right decision, and that the local community should have been notified.
I am very glad that the Government have now reversed their decision, and that these asylum seekers will not be housed in Havering. I know that Priti would want to make sure that these people had the right sort of care and accommodation and that the local people of Havering were also looked after and taken into consideration as well. This is good decision for our area and for the people who are seeking asylum.