News release from: 27/02/2023
Home Office use Bar Hill hotel to house asylum seekers
The Home Office has informed local councils that they are now using the Cambridge Bar Hill Hotel as accommodation for asylum seekers.
This is part of a national programme throughout the UK to deal with an increase in the number of people arriving in the UK and the decision by the Home Office to ‘disperse’ asylum seekers across the country.
The hotel, which has 136 rooms, will be used to house a maximum of 272 people who have arrived in England after crossing the Channel by boat.
The Home Office has informed the Councils that the new arrivals will be families and single females. However, the people who stay in the hotel is determined by needs and pressures within the asylum system and is a Home Office decision.
If the hotel is used for mainly families, the number of people at the hotel will be less than the maximum capacity. The hotel will not be open to other guests for overnight accommodation.
South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Integrated Care System are now working together to provide support, including:
- Applying for school places
- Ensuring appropriate healthcare is available
- Keeping the local community informed of the Home Office’s plans
- Considering the social needs of asylum seekers and working with the voluntary sector, Bar Hill Parish Council and other groups to address these where possible
Those staying at the hotel will remain there as asylum claims are assessed. During that time, the Home Office will provide them with three meals a day, toiletries, a laundry service and £9.10 per week.
The day to day arrangements at the hotel in Bar Hill will be overseen by Serco, who are working with the Home Office to deliver the asylum accommodation scheme. There will be security provided at the hotel for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Children who arrive at the hotel in Bar Hill will be given access to education, as anyone arriving in the area would be. This could be through attendance at local schools and colleges. Asylum seekers will apply for school places for their children in the same way as all other residents. Support will be provided.
Asylum seekers will also be able to access local health services in the same way that any person visiting South Cambridgeshire on a temporary basis would. Health partners are working on the best way to accommodate this locally, whilst considering and being conscious of existing demand for local services.
Following their time at the hotel, the asylum seekers will be moved to other temporary dispersal accommodation provided by the Home Office as it becomes available. This could be anywhere in the country. This future accommodation will not be provided by local Councils.
District Councillor for Bar Hill, Cllr Bunty Waters, said: “The local community understandably has questions about this arrangement, and we will be keen to work closely with the Parish Council to keep everybody informed. I have stressed to Government that using the Cambridge Bar Hill Hotel for this type of accommodation is far from ideal and they have acknowledged this and are working on other solutions. In the meantime, we all need to show patience and understanding. In early 2021, the Bar Hill community came together to support lorry drivers who stayed at this hotel whilst they were isolating with COVID-19. I’m sure they will extend their best wishes to those arriving here once again.”
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Bill Handley, commented: “This is a Home Office scheme over which we, as a Local Authority, have no control. We must appreciate that many asylum seekers have had a very difficult and often traumatic time before arriving in South Cambridgeshire and they are likely to be both worried and confused. The council will do what it can to make their stay as comfortable as possible and we’ll be working with partners to provide health and wellbeing support whilst listening to the local community and keeping them informed.”
Cllr Edna Murphy, County Councillor for Bar Hill at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We’re working hard with our partners, South Cambridgeshire District Council and NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, to assess and manage the situation, as well as directly through our own teams in Public Health and Education to support the people placed here, and the community around them. We understand from the Home Office that this hotel will offer temporary accommodation while people await the outcome of their asylum applications. I know that residents will show their support and welcome these people to our village and the county.”
Further information about the use of the hotel, and any future updates, can be found on our website.