Council moves to limit further use of coastal hotels for asylum seekers

East Lindsey District Council is considering pursuing a Judicial Review to prevent the Home Office from continuing to promote the unlawful use of hotels in Skegness as hostels for those seeking asylum.
ELDC is seeking a Judicial Review on the  use of seafront hotels for asylum seekers.ELDC is seeking a Judicial Review on the  use of seafront hotels for asylum seekers.
ELDC is seeking a Judicial Review on the use of seafront hotels for asylum seekers.

The authority has formally submitted a pre-action letter to the Home Office, arguing the Home Office has persistently, repeatedly and unlawfully encouraged and procured breaches of planning control by instructing SERCO Group Plc, to purchase hotel accommodation in Skegness for those seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.

It also claims in the letter: “Those unauthorised changes of use have caused substantial harm.”

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This action follows a successful outcome for Great Yarmouth Borough Council who, faced similar problems, took the matter to High Court and were granted an ongoing injunction to block the Home Office from using dozens of Norfolk hotels to house asylum seekers.

East Lindsey’s case is that the Home Office is encouraging is a material change of use which requires planning permission, which has not been applied for or obtained.

Assurance was sort from the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman MP, and the Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Jenrick MP, that the Home Office would not procure the use of any more hotels as hostels for asylum seekers in Skegness or East Lindsey as a whole.

However both failed to give those assurances and now the Council has taken the first step towards potentially triggering legal action is officially seeking legal action to prevent further harm.

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To date, five hotels in the prime tourist area of Skegness have been procured for hostel use without the grant of planning permission.

The authority claims the harm that has been caused by the Home Office’s policy is to deplete Skegness’s stock of hotel accommodation for tourists and harm its reputation as a family resort, directly conflicting withthe adopted Local Plan for Coastal East Lindsey.

In addition, the Home Office’s failure to consult with the Council has placed a substantial and potentially unsustainable burden on providers of primary healthcare in Skegness as well as beginning to undermine social cohesion, it concludes.

Coun Craig Leyland, Leader of East Lindsey District Council, said: “Skegness is the fourth most visited coastal resort in the UK. It depends on maintaining a thriving tourism economy driven by holidaymakers and people who choose to holiday in the town and on day trippers.

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“The unlawful use of hotels as hostels, which goes against planning policy, is depleting the supply of accommodation on offer for tourists and this use is not helping our reputation as a family holiday resort which is a vital part of the local economy.

“This pre-action letter indicates the Council’s intentions to seek a Judicial Review if the Home Office will not agree to stop purchasing more hotels for hostel use unless it is authorised by the grant of planning permission.”

Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness, said: “I have repeatedly urged the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Immigration Minister to end the use of tourist hotels in Skegness to accommodate people seeking asylum. As I said recently at a public meeting in Skegness, it is unacceptable and wholly inappropriate.

“I will continue to press the point that these hotels are needed to support our local tourism economy and offer my full support to ELDC in bringing this legal challenge.”