A LOCAL MP has started a new ‘battle’ with the government in a bid to return an asylum hotel back to the public.
The Holiday Inn, on Manvers Way in Wath-upon-Dearne, was first used as a site to house asylum seekers almost two years ago - but Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey is now fighting to bring the hotel back into public use.
The government revealed earlier this week that they are planning to stop using 50 hotels across the country - but it is not yet known if the Manvers site will be one of them.
Mr Healey has written to the Home Office to ask them to end the contract with the site.
He said the site is ‘totally unsuited’ to house asylum seekers.
“Our Manvers hotel has been used by the Home Office as an asylum hotel for over 18 months now, despite repeated objections from Rotherham Council, local residents and me as their local MP,” he added.
“The hotel and the Manvers area are totally unsuited to house asylum seekers and I wrote again last month to the Home Secretary asking for clarification on whether or not the contract would be extended beyond October 2023.
“As I have still not had a reply, I am writing today to ask you to release our Manvers hotel in line with the previous commitments I’ve been given by ministers that its use as an asylum hotel would be a on a ‘temporary basis’.
“I am also set to meet with the owners of the hotel next week to make clear to them that I remain determined to see the hotel back open operating as a hotel.”
The MP has previously slammed the government for extending the initial contract with the hotel, after it was signed without any public consultation.
The extension led to a protest against asylum seekers being housed there earlier this year, as tempers threatened to boil over.
In February, two protests were out in force - one supporting the asylum seekers, and those who don’t.
The anti-protest garnered support on a scale of around four to one, with hundreds attending to show their support against ‘fascists and racists’.
Two people were subsequently arrested by the police.
The number of Afghan refugees living in Barnsley has increased in the past few months.
In response to the Taliban retaking control of the country, the government launched two schemes to relocate Afghan citizens in 2021 and 2022.
These schemes have a particular focus on helping those who worked with the UK during the war in Afghanistan, and vulnerable groups.
New figures from the Home Office show more than 20,000 Afghans fleeing the conflict have settled in the UK through the two schemes, at the end of June.
Of them, 26 lived in Barnsley - an increase from the 17 living in the area in March.