'Unsuitable' Devon hotel being used to house more than 50 asylum seekers

Just weeks ago the Dilkhusa Hotel in Ilfracombe was declared as 'unsuitable' by the Home Office to house asylum seekers. Credit: Google Maps

The MP for North Devon has said she's "concerned" about the process for asylum seekers after it was discovered that more than 50 people are staying at an "unsuitable" hotel in North Devon.

The Home Office confirmed it intended to house people at the hotel who were waiting for a decision on their asylum application at the start of October.

At the time both North Devon Council and MP Selaine Saxby raised concerns about the plan due to the remote location of the hotel and the economic impact of the loss of an operating hotel to the area.

But it has since come to light that the hotel is being used to house more than 50 asylum-seekers.

North Devon Council leader Councillor David Worden said: "It has come to our notice that the Dilkhusa has now been commissioned and there are currently 55 people in the hotel who have arrived in the UK seeking asylum.

"We were not consulted or formally notified about this change in direction from the Home Office, nor do we have a full understanding at this stage of their intentions for the hotel's future use."

Selaine Saxby says the process of housing asylum seekers does not seem to be working well as key local stakeholders are not included.

She said she wants to make sure people seeking asylum are "safe and secure".

"I think every council is happy to help and I know North Devon Council are very keen to help if they can," she said. "But what's happened here is a hotel has volunteered to take asylum seekers.

"It was a fully functioning hotel in a town that is entirely dependent on tourism for its economy.

"It's closed its doors in the run up to Christmas, taking 100 beds out of that economy, fired all of its staff ahead of even being given the go-ahead. And I think the process is what is of concern here.

"If two weeks ago this hotel was not considered suitable, either for the local community or for those people who are seeking asylum, because actually there are not enough facilities in what is a very remote town, there's limited public transport and there's not as big as health facilities as had this come to Barnstaple - that's the frustration."

It comes as MPs have piled further pressure on the Home Secretary to explain how the Government will get to grips with the migrant crisis.

Rishi Sunak defended his government's handling of newly arrived asylum seekers - though he admitted "not enough" claims are being processed.

ITV News West Country contacted the Dilkhusa Hotel for a response but they declined to comment.

A spokesperson from the Home Office said the department is continuing to work with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation for people.