PRESS RELEASE: 10th Nov. 2022: STOCKPORT COUNCIL SHARES RAPAR’S CONCERNS ABOUT HOTEL PROVIDING ACCOMMODATION FOR PEOPLE SEEKING ASYLUM
Stockport council has confirmed that it shares many of the concerns RAPAR raised last week about the Serco managed hotel that provides accommodation for people seeking asylum.
RAPAR sent an open letter to council leader Mark Hunter and all four Stockport MPs about a number of issues, including an outbreak of Scabies, safeguarding fears, reported abuse from Serco staff, and insufficient and inappropriate food (see open letter here).
Serco dismissed RAPAR’s anxieties, saying: “The allegations made by RAPAR are incorrect.” They claimed there were no cases of scabies, that a balanced and nutritious menu was provided, and denied that their staff treated residents with disrespect.
However, a spokeswoman for the Stockport council leader said they share RAPAR’s concerns about conditions in the hotel “where the inadequate management arrangements and resettlement planning continue to cause extremely negative consequences.”
Cllr Hunter’s office agrees that appropriate preventative arrangements are not in place at the hotel and that the model, which is designed for a high turnover, is not working.
“The asylum seekers and Stockport residents are suffering. Asylum seekers have been cooped up in a hotel for months and this inhumane treatment acts as a Petri dish for mental health issues in a cohort that are already vulnerable,” says the council leader’s statement.
Cllr Hunter adds: “We are aware that there is an outbreak of Scabies and it is because of the arrangements we have put in place that individuals are receiving treatment.”
The council leader says the authority has worked extremely hard to persuade Serco to provide more nutritional and appetising food, especially for children, by suggesting menus, supporting hotel users to provide feedback, and putting the hotel in touch with other locations where food is being managed more successfully.
“Many of the issues you have raised are those we have sought to address and progress on a regular basis with Serco and Home Office colleagues. However, there is a limit to our influence as this is a contract between the hotel and Serco on behalf of the Home Office.
“Stockport is a welcoming and inclusive borough and we are proud of how community, voluntary agencies and public sector have provided warm support to Asylum Seekers, Afghan Evacuees and Ukrainians over the past year or so.”
RAPAR had supplied photographs which showed bags of rubbish dumped in corridors and stairwells and the council leader has asked environmental health officers to visit the hotel again and review the arrangements, particularly food and hygiene. “Please be reassured we will take enforcement action if there are failings that we are empowered to act upon.”
The council leader’s statement also revealed that he wrote to the previous Home Secretary “to outline our serious concerns regarding the arrangements in place for temporary and permanent settlement of various communities within Stockport.”
He says it was the second time the council had written since the hotel was first utilised for refugees and adds: “I am afraid we have not witnessed an improvement in the conditions that asylum seekers are being housed, nor received additional funding to help the voluntary and public sector provide much needed support.”
For more information, please contact:
Dr Rhetta Moran 07776 264646
Kath Grant 07865 713474