A SOUTHAMPTON MP has hit out at plans to continue using a city centre hotel to house asylum seekers while their claims are assessed.

Royston Smith said he was disappointed that the 99-room Mercure Southampton Centre Dolphin Hotel was "once again" being utilised by the Home Office as an accommodation centre.

The Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen said the move would increase the pressure on facilities that were already overburdened.

"Many of my constituents are often struggling to get appointments with GPs and dentists and many local resources, such as schools, are stretched to the limit," he said.

Daily Echo: The Home Office is using hotels across the country to house asylum seekers while their claims are assessedThe Home Office is using hotels across the country to house asylum seekers while their claims are assessed (Image: PA)

"While I understand that asylum seekers have to be accommodated somewhere, city centre hotels are not, in my opinion, the answer.

"Southampton has been overlooked for investment for decades. We have not benefitted from levelling up funds, as many northern cities have, and our resources are already inadequate for the existing population.

"Adding more pressures will do nothing to help my constituents and I find this additional pressure completely unacceptable."

READ MORE: Mercure Dolphin Hotel in Southampton cancels bookings

Mr Smith spoke out after receiving a letter from Ann Smith, deputy director of resettlement, asylum support and integration at the Home Office.

She said the government wanted to use the Dolphin Hotel to accommodate asylum seekers "within the coming days".

"While we do not wish to use hotels in the long term, and are working to reduce our reliance on them, a number of factors mean that we must provide accommodation on a temporary basis now to comply with our statutory duties.

Daily Echo: Royston Smith, Tory MP for Southampton ItchenRoyston Smith, Tory MP for Southampton Itchen (Image: Newsquest.)

"We continue to see illegal entry to the UK via small boats across the English Channel, which the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 seeks to prevent.

"We will work with the City of Southampton on ensuring any relevant services can be made available for those being accommodated and address any concerns regarding the use of this site."

The four-star hotel was reportedly used for a similar purpose at the end of last year. 

READ MORE: Hundreds march against plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain.

"The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently more than 33,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer more than £5 million a day.

"The use of hotels is a short-term solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation."

Morgan O'Kennedy, the hotel's general manager, said: "It has always been a priority for the hotel to maintain confidentiality around all guest bookings, and so we are unable to provide specific details or information on potential guests or bookings."

The use of hotels to house asylum seekers has come under fire from Migration Watch UK.

A spokesperson said: "It is appalling that asylum seekers are being put up in nice hotels at high cost to the taxpayer and local economies.”

“Instead of hosting visitors only too happy to spend money around Southampton, hotels are having to accommodate asylum seekers, many of whom arrived without permission, at a time when services and communities are already under great strain.”

“It is high time the Home Office got a grip on the Channel crisis and works through the asylum backlog.

"The government’s failure to control the border is leading to massive costs and burdens at a time when the UK can least afford it."

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