Refugees put up at four-star Essex country hotel as ministers battle immigration crisis

031122 Great Hallingbury Manor google maps
Great Hallingbury Manor is just a five-minute drive from Stansted Airport Credit: Google

More than 50 refugees staying at a four-star country manor hotel are among hundreds who have been found emergency accommodation as the government struggles to get on top of the immigration crisis.

Staff at Great Hallingbury Manor in Essex said the refugees were men from North Africa and they were expected to stay for at least two months.

The immigration crisis has seen councils in some areas mount legal action against the government for housing asylum seekers in hotels, as ministers seek to cope with overcrowding at the Manston asylum processing site in Kent amid a surge in small boat crossings.

The Home Office had previously said "record levels" of arrivals to the UK had put “unprecedented pressure” on the system, with ministers admitting to spending £7m a day on accommodation.

At least four local authorities have taken action against the Home Office, which said it was working with councils to “find appropriate accommodation during this challenging time”.

Asylum seekers outside the Novotel Hotel in Ipswich Credit: ITV Anglia

Neighbours said the asylum seekers at 44-bedroom Great Hallingbury Manor, where rooms normally cost between £80 and £120 a night, had been there for several weeks.

A note on the door reads: ”Please be informed that our hotel is closed to the public. Apologies for any inconvenience.”

Hotels across the East of England have been used to put up asylum seekers waiting for their applications to be processed, with several in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

Mike Sands, a councillor in Norwich, where a hotel has been block-booked by the Home Office, urged people in his ward to show compassion.

"We need to show a degree of understanding and empathy - we need to be able to put ourselves in their position," he said.

"What would we want to do if we were under similar circumstances? I'm certain most of us would take similar sorts or actions to make ourselves safe or our families safe"

Mike Sands, a Norfolk County Councillor, has urged people to be understanding. Credit: ITV News Anglia

At Great Hallingbury on Wednesday, some of the newcomers could be seen walking in the lanes nearby and playing football in the hotel car park.

One worker at the hotel said: ”It happened very suddenly at the end of last week when we were told that refugees would be arriving – and staying for up to two months.

“Most of them just wander about – they have three meals a day and there have already been complaints from some of them about the food they are given – it is not what they are used to."

He added that around 50 men were being housed at the hotel, all aged between 20 and 40.

"They spend their time walking about or playing football – they do not say much but language is a problem. They still seem shocked and keep themselves to themselves," he added.

“We don’t know how long they are staying but the hotel is telling people that it is shut for at least a couple of months.”

A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said the men had been seen around the area but there had been no trouble. They added they were glad that the asylum seekers had somewhere better to stay than living in those terrible conditions near Dover sleeping on the ground in a tent. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has described the migrant crisis as a "serious and escalating problem" and admitted that "not enough" asylum claims are being processed, but insisted the government was getting a grip on the situation.

Meanwhile, a group of migrants are being put up at a hotel in Norwich after reportedly being left at London Victoria station without accommodation.

The group of 11 men were driven to the capital from Kent on Tuesday as part of a larger group, according to The Guardian.

Danial Abbas, from the Under One Sky homelessness charity, said the men were left "highly distressed, disorientated, lost" in London, with "nowhere to go".

Mr Abbas told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that someone from the Home Office "put his hands up on behalf of the Home Office and said 'this has been a massive error, let's get this sorted ASAP'."

Mr Abbas said that "very quickly a solution was found" and the group was taken to a hotel in Norwich.

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