COUNCIL chiefs from across Worcester’s political spectrum have revealed their hope of a ‘warm and friendly welcome’ to asylum seekers looking to settle in the city.
The pledge was delivered in a rare joint statement about the presence of asylum seekers by the leaders of the four political groups represented on Worcester City Council.
Councillors Mel Allcott (Liberal Democrat), Marjory Bisset (Green), Lynn Denham (Labour) and Chris Mitchell (Conservative) spoke out after it was revealed Worcester could be asked to find homes for 66 asylum seekers by the end of 2023.
It’s part of the Government’s bids to end its dependence on local hotels and some 20 homes – likely to be houses of multiple occupancy – would need to be made available under the proposals.
The Fownes Hotel has been used since August to house asylum seekers awaiting an outcome of whether they will be allowed to remain in the UK.
According to a council report there are 115 people staying in the hotel.
However the Government now wishes to ‘reduce and eliminate’ the use of such venues and has contracted Serco to deliver a scheme for people wishing to come to the UK.
As a result, the city is being asked to allocate homes from the stock of 8,700 privately-owned properties. Once identified, Serco will then engage with the landlords involved.
“People seeking asylum in the UK are often fleeing war, violence or persecution in their own countries, and have faced long and arduous journeys to arrive here,” the leaders said.
“These are people desperately seeking a place of security and somewhere they can call home and – if they meet the criteria for remaining in the UK – we know we can rely on the people of Worcester to give them a warm and friendly welcome.”
“That is why Worcester City Council is working with the West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership to ensure that the city plays its part in accommodating asylum seekers.
“Accommodation for asylum seekers is organised by Serco, working on behalf of the Home Office, with places for up to 66 people expected to be provide in the city over the next 12 months.
“The City Council will play an advisory and supporting role, offering guidance on the best areas of the city for asylum seekers to be placed in.”