RIVAL CANDIDATES for the Stroud constituency have aired their views on asylum seekers being placed in hotels. 

This comes as Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie told the government it needed to close asylum seeker hotel accommodation across Gloucestershire and find a simple safe and legal route policy for those who need assistance.

Siobhan said the safe and legal routes policy needs to be created alongside the Illegal Migration Bill. 

Stroud News and Journal:

Speaking in the bill debate, Siobhan said: “The public expect action on small boats and illegal migration.

"The main issues raised with me are illegality, asylum seeker hotels, and safe and legal routes.

“It is clearly extremely dangerous and not sustainable to have 45,000 people arriving across the channel in small boats. 

"It is not sustainable for our own communities, housing and services. 

“On hotel accommodation, my constituents know that I have worked really hard and been very careful not to use my social media or my platform to draw attention to hotels or to asylum seekers in our county of Gloucestershire. 

“Given the attacks on various hotels and places around the country, I do not think it is fair or responsible to communities to do that. Instead, I have spoken to people directly.

"I have held meetings and I have had police down to parts of my constituency.

"I have spoken before about my disappointment and anger that hotels have been placed in inappropriate areas that we know will cause difficulties.

"The hotels have to close and I want to hear more from the Minister for Immigration about when that will happen.”

Siobhan explained many of her constituents also want to see safe and legal routes that are controlled but she added: “We have to nail down what it means. The reality is that the safe and legal route policy should work transparently alongside the Bill. 

“I look to the recent leader in The Spectator, which talked about the simple policy of a safe route being created for each illegal migrant who is returned.

"That is gloriously simple and I think it would deal with a lot of the concerns of the public.”

But Labour Party candidate for the Stroud constituency Dr Simon Opher and Green Party candidate Pete Kennedy disagree. 

Here are their thoughts. 

Dr Simon Opher, Labour Party candidate for Stroud constituency 


Stroud News and Journal:

“The use of hotels is a sign of failure of this Conservative government.

"Labour would end the long-term use of hotels as asylum accommodation by speeding up processing of asylum applications.

“The Conservatives rhetoric and gimmicks haven’t worked.

"The Government has totally failed in its attempt to crack down on channel crossings and reduce the asylum backlog.

"I look after asylum seekers as part of my medical job, and almost all of them are genuine and are often waiting 18 months for a decision.

"The people of Stroud have a proud history of looking after people who have been traumatised by experiences in their own countries.

“Government policy has directly led to increased numbers of people being put up in hotels.

"The government are now spending £6.8 million of taxpayers’ money every day to put up over 30,000 people in hotels.

“It’s the worst of all worlds – refugees aren’t getting the support they need, those who are not refugees aren’t being returned, and asylum costs, hotel costs and overcrowding are all shooting up.

"This is a damning record of failure.

“Labour would fix this broken system, starting with clearing the backlog of decisions for people already here so we aren’t wasting millions ever day on hotels”.

Pete Kennedy, Green Party candidate for Stroud constituency 

Stroud News and Journal:

"We need safe routes for asylum seekers, then a speedy legal process and support to start a life in the UK," said Mr Kennedy. 

"The suggestion that the number of safe routes should be linked to the number of deportations is ludicrous and cruel.

"The only way to stop people making the dangerous channel crossing in small boats is by providing safe routes to anyone who needs to come to the UK. 

"Housing asylum seekers in hotels at great expense is a symptom of the government’s failure to process asylum claims in a timely manner.

"75 per cent of asylum claims last year were granted at initial decision.

"This means that a huge number of genuine asylum seekers are being trapped in hotels waiting for the legal process to allow them to get on with their lives in safety, having fled war or persecution. 

"There is no maximum time limit on how long the government can detain asylum seekers and process their claim.

"The government needs to speed up the claim process and make decisions quickly so that people aren’t being detained for so long and at such cost, which is better for everyone. 

"These people are not living a life of luxury - they are given only £6.43 a day to live on and are banned from working. 

"The Green Party proudly welcomes refugees and migrants to the UK.

"Stroud District Council has been working with community organisations and local people to support refugees in our district." 

Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers statement

"we believe it is essential that the Government  reates safe routes for asylum seekers to be able to get to safety in the UK and be able to claim asylum as is their right under the Geneva Convention.

"For those already living here in the asylum system, waiting for the legal processes to be completed, we wish this to be as swift as possible.

"We recognise that the backlog of asylum claims has meant that there has not been a sufficient quantity of dispersal accommodation for asylum seekers to live in which is why the Home Office have resorted to using hotels across the country.

"We are committed to working with those who are living in hotels to make this challenging time a little better, but would agree it is far from an ideal place to live.

"We are so encouraged by the generosity and support of so many people within Gloucestershire who have been volunteering their time and activities to help the people living in hotels feel welcome in this area."