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CONCERNS: Asylum seeker plan rejected as hotel compared to ‘prison’

CONCERNS: Asylum seeker plan rejected as hotel compared to ‘prison’

The Rowton Hotel, Image: LDRS

A Birmingham city centre hotel will not be used to accommodate asylum seekers over the next three years – after conditions were compared to that of a ‘prison’.

It had been proposed that the historic Rowton Hotel on Alcester Street, Digbeth, could be used to house up to 327 asylum seekers at a time, part in response to the growing numbers of asylum seekers landing in the UK.

While the original application was met with some objections, including one which claimed that bags of excrement had been thrown from the hotel when it was previously used as accommodation for asylum seekers, the council had recommended that the proposals be approved by the planning committee.

However the plans were instead rejected, with several voicing concerns over the living conditions being provided.

“I think we all know that Birmingham is a city of sanctuary, but what concerns me about this application is the density of the numbers,” said Cllr Johnson (Lab, Weoley & Selly Oak).

“It’s 327 people, and the lack of amenity space is a concern. If that is full to capacity then it’s a lot of people altogether in one place.

“And if we want to offer this sanctuary to these people – whether its families, single men, single women, couples – whatever that family unit is, we want to welcome people for however long that period is, whether it’s three to four weeks or whether people end up staying in that accommodation for the next 12 months.

“But it’s in a room that has very little communal space if any, or any outside space. And that concerns me. It’s a great facility in a lot of ways, but it’s also like being in prison – because you’ve got nowhere to go, there’s no other facilities.”

After the vote, the council announced that it would be examining other potential solutions to help it house asylum seekers in the future.

Six councillors voted against the plan, with three in favour while one abstained.


Words: Tom Dare, Local Democracy Reporter

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