HEREFORD MP Jesse Norman has issued a statement regarding up to 120 asylum seekers being housed at a city hotel.

The Hereford Times understands the refugees are now at the Three Counties Hotel in Belmont Road, with the site being managed by The Home Office's contractors, Serco. 

Last Friday (March 17), Belmont Rural Parish Council held a public meeting at the Left Bank so that people could ask questions or raise concerns.


The meeting heard that Hereford Medical Group would be providing the asylym seekers' medical provision, while 24-hour security would be provided at the hotel.

However, many questions could not be answered, and no one from Serco attended the meeting, despite, the parish council said, being invited.

Jesse Norman's statement in full

I completely understand how important this issue is to residents of Hereford, especially those living south of the river.

Hereford Times:

As you may know, this is a Home Office decision, which I have been actively fighting from the start.

In recent years, Herefordshire has received some 180 refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, and 750 people under the Ukraine schemes; a further 150 Ukrainians are awaiting sponsorship.

This shows how Herefordians have been willing to step forward at times of crisis to help others, despite the county's low income and small population.


On this issue, over the past few weeks I have worked closely with councillors and council officers, have organised two meetings with Home Office officials, had detailed discussions with the Immigration Minister, and have written in strong terms both to the Immigration Minister and to the Home Secretary.

Despite these representations, the Home Office has decided to press ahead at great speed, without doing any detailed analysis of its own and despite the clear and convincing evidence presented as to the likely impact on already stretched local services.

What is this clear and convincing evidence?

It is that Herefordshire Council is still under assessment by the independent Commissioner in relation to children's services. The hospital is ranked second in the UK among NHS trusts with the most patients waiting over the four hour target in December 2022 and January 2023.

Local access to GP services, and especially to NHS dental care, has been limited since the pandemic. The Three Counties is located close to an area of the highest 10 per cent UK multiple deprivation. Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service have raised significant concerns about a range of fire safety issues at the hotel.

I originally thought there was an arguable case that the Home Office has been acting unlawfully on this issue. I said this to Ministers, but on your behalf I also thought it was important to go the extra mile, and I have since consulted on this matter with a top firm of solicitors. 

On the basis of their independent advice, it does not now seem likely that a legal challenge would succeed. But in terms of local impact there cannot be much doubt that Home Office officials made the wrong decision here. 

I and my team will of course assist any local people who have concerns, both now and in the days and weeks ahead.

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