THE Bishop of Hereford has said he finds the rhetoric surrounding asylum seekers being housed at a Hereford hotel "deeply disturbing".

The Rt Rev Richard Jackson said the conversations online, which have included racist comments and other hate speech, were "uncharitable, to say the least".

The Home Office is forging ahead with its plans, and the Three Counties Hotel will close on Friday with the first of up to 120 asylum seekers arriving next week.

There will be 24-hour security at the Belmont Road hotel, and people living there will have access to local healthcare and their children access to schools.

But it won't be the first time Herefordshire has welcomed asylum seekers.


The Bishop said he had visited some refugees in Pakistan and their only crime was changing their religion.

"For that, they were being pursued by angry relatives," he said.

Hereford Times: The Bishop of Hereford Richard Jackson, pictured with his wifeThe Bishop of Hereford Richard Jackson, pictured with his wife

"I baptised one child who still bore the scars of being burned out of their home. Two weeks later, they were tracked down and had to flee again.

"As a church, we are supporting a large number of Ukrainian refugees from the current war. Should they have stayed at home, risking death and childhood trauma? What would you have done if you were in their position?

Hereford Times:

"Should the Afghans who worked with the British forces have stayed in Afghanistan and taken their chances? How would you feel if you found yourself in their shoes?

"Frankly, I find the rhetoric appearing in online forums and in print publications around asylum seekers deeply disturbing.

"The most recent conversations surrounding a proposal to host asylum seekers in the Three Counties Hotel in Hereford seems uncharitable, to say the least."

He said he was not so naïve as to recognise this is a complex issue and there is no single or easy solution.

"I’m aware that we can’t offer asylum to everyone, but we must not disregard our ethical responsibilities or ignore at will international law — which protects the right to claim asylum," he said, adding the Uk has a "rich history" of welcoming refugees.

Herefordshire's two Conservative MPs have previously voiced concerns about the plans for the Three Counties Hotel.

Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman said there was a national need to address the important issue, but was concerned about pressure on the NHS.


Meanwhile, Sir Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, incorrectly labelled asylum seekers as "illegal migrants", with the ability to seek asylum covered by international law.

He said: "Filling hotels in England with illegal migrants is encouraging extreme right-wing groups and putting police officers at risk.

“I will not accept it in Herefordshire."

That came after comments from Home Secretary Suella Braverman who said housing asylum seekers in hotels was causing “understandable tensions”.

What are your thoughts?

You can send a letter to the editor to have your say by clicking here.

Letters should not exceed 250 words and local issues take precedence.