COUNCIL bosses have said the Royal Borough is doing “more than its fair share” in housing asylum seekers after the Home Office took over a Datchet hotel at short notice.

An avalanche of concerns from a packed public meeting at the Datchet village hall on Wednesday, September 7, was raised after the government department decided it was using the Manor Hotel to house asylum seekers while their claims for sanctuary in the UK are processed.

The arrangements were put in place on September 1 and are part of a nationally run 100-hotel scheme throughout the UK privately organised by the Home Office and hotels involved.

However, the Home Office only told the Royal Borough Council it was using the Manor Hotel within 48 hours of its decision without any consultation with the local authority or residents.

Slough Observer: James BagleyJames Bagley (Image: James Bagley)

The council slammed the Home Office for giving “minimal notice” and was concerned the asylum seekers will add pressure to services and its budget – with the government not reimbursing the Royal Borough for these additional costs.

This is not the first time the government gave short notice on a similar issue. In March, the council was given short notice that the Holiday Inn in Maidenhead will be used to accommodate asylum seekers.

READ MORE: The Manor hotel, Datchet: Home Office takes over site for asylum seekers

At the meeting, David Scott, head of communities at the council, said: “The impact will be managed to the best that we can but more widely, our representation back to the Home Office is that the borough is already doing more than its fair share because the total number of places to operate in our borough is disproportionate to our population relative to our neighbours.”

It is understood about 20 asylum seekers are at the hotel and is being used as a contingency accommodation, which means it is believed it is being used to accommodate single, adult male asylum seekers.

Council bosses said they are “in the dark” about what’s going on at the hotel and are demanding answers from the Home Office when they next meet in the coming weeks.

Slough Observer: James BagleyJames Bagley (Image: James Bagley)

Cllr David Cannon (Con: Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury), lead member for public protection, crime, & anti-social behaviour said: “This is not acceptable. It is the Home Office imposing on our community and we are doing everything within the law to ensure that this is looked to and the Home Office’s actions are looked into.

“We need a suitable accommodation for these people [asylum seekers] and the Manor Hotel is not that accommodation.”

The Home Office was invited to give an explanation at the meeting, but a representative was unable to turn up.

One man said it was an “undemocratic decision” as the Home Office undertook zero consultation with the council and residents.

READ MORE: Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury councillor to stand down

Villagers also vented their frustration at the Manor Hotel, which was used to house the homeless during Covid-19 and is operated by MG Hotels, saying this arrangement was “purely for commercial reasons” and had no thought for local residents.

Mr Scott said he said he understands the Home Office are responsible for the asylum seekers in terms of monitoring and support. Meanwhile, Sergeant Cathy Griffiths from Thames Valley Police said they cannot monitor the asylum seekers but will try and engage with them.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are dealing with an unprecedented increase in asylum cases but despite this we continue to ensure that the accommodation provided is safe, secure and leaves no one destitute

“The Home Office does not comment on operational arrangements for individual hotels.”