Tory MP David Davis says Hull university halls asylum seeker plan is a 'bad idea'

  • David Davis MP was speaking to ITV News' Lara Rostron

Conservative MP David Davis has described plans to house asylum seekers in former university halls of residence near Hull as a "bad idea" and "unwise".

The Haltemprice and Howden MP was speaking following a public meeting in Cottingham last night (5 January) which saw over 200 local residents gather to discuss the issue.

It centres on possible plans by the University of Hull to sell The Lawns complex, which has capacity for approximately 1,000 people, to the Home Office, with the intention of using the buildings as accommodation for people waiting for decisions on their asylum applications.

The plan has seen strong local opposition from MPs, councillors and residents alike, with Mr Davis saying local services wouldn't be able to support the sudden increase of people on that scale.

"It's not the right place for them," the former Brexit Secretary told ITV News.

When combined with a few hundred other asylum seekers already housed in Hull, Mr Davis said the area "doesn't have public services to support them".

"All of those services will come under pressure to the cost of local inhabitants."

Mr Davis went on to claim that "many of these will be young men" and that "they've caused difficulties there already".

However, this appears to conflict with the message given to attendees at the public meeting in Cottingham.

A Humberside police officer addressing the audience said that the data "does not match the concerns" that residents were raising about an increase in crime as a direct result of more migrants and asylum seekers.

The Home Office spends almost £7 million every day to put up asylum seekers in hotels, and is looking for alternative options to help reduce the cost, including repurposing former university accommodation.

But Mr Davis said that the answer to that was to "get a grip of the problem" of "people coming from countries that are perfectly safe... [who] have overwhelmed the system".

More than 9,000 of those currently in hotels across the country have fled from war-torn Afghanistan, and only "a third" of asylum seekers come from "safe" countries according to Mr Davis.

"We should [help those at risk] properly, by having the right checks at the border, the right approach, and the right management of them thereafter," he said.

"You can't differentiate in your treatment of people once they're in the asylum system, you have to deal with it before it gets to that point.

Asked if he would accept a smaller number of people in The Lawns, Mr Davis said "we already have".

"Already at Thwaite Hall [another former hall of residence] over 180 people are being looked after there. At Humber View Hotel you've got more people there," he continued.

"There comes a point where the local community can say enough is enough, and I think they've gone past that point to be honest."

The Home Office says the hotel bill for more than 45,000 asylum seekers is nearly £7m and they have to look at alternatives.

Meanwhile, the University of Hull has said no decisions have yet been made about the future of the Cottingham site, adding that it's working with local stakeholders to explore opportunities, which would be welcomed by the community.

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