Council use planning powers to stop asylum seekers arriving in Coventry

Coventry City Council has stopped the arrival of asylum seekers to The Royal Court Hotel due to overstretched healthcare provisions.

Pictured: the front facade of The Royal Court Hotel, operated by Britannia Hotels.

Coventry City Council has used its legal planning powers to stop the arrival of asylum seekers to a hotel in Coventry after being left with “no alternative.”

In a statement, it was explained that planning officers took the decision to halt the use of The Royal Court Hotel in Coventry as a hostel for asylum seekers due to no consultation taking place, and council comments being ignored when the use of the hotel was discovered.

The Labour-controlled council called out the “disproportionate” use of Coventry to house asylum seekers, as two city hotels already provide temporary accommodation.

“It appears that Coventry’s goodwill is being taken advantage of … with little or no funding and support”, said a spokesperson for Coventry City Council.

The main objection relates to health services in the city already struggling to support those in existing hotels, especially given the added pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.

Further arrivals of asylum seekers will require the commissioning of additional health provisions, for which the source of funding is unclear to the council.

The council called the decision “difficult”, but said they “believe it is the right one”.

The 200-bedroom hotel is operated by Britannia Hotel, who also own a hotel in the city centre, with facilities including an indoor pool, gym, sauna, conference rooms and free Wi-Fi in public areas.

The hotel operator describes the property as a “beautiful Grade II listed country house hotel … set in picturesque gardens”.

The move to stop the arrival of more asylum seekers is out of the ordinary for what is a Labour-controlled city that has been voluntarily welcoming asylum seekers since 1999.

Taiwo Owatemi, MP for Coventry North West, said she was “disappointed” at the “insufficient” communication from the Home Office on the matter, adding that “throughout Covid, [Government] has kept local authorities and regions outside of London in the dark.”

Ms Owatemi points out that it is this lack of communication, and the fact that the city council were not notified in advance, which led to the city being unable to accept more asylum seekers.

“The safety of everyone in Coventry is paramount and information from central government is crucial in ensuring that”, she added.

“I’m proud that Coventry is a welcoming city and a safe place of refuge.”