COUNCIL chief Martin Kimber (pictured) has complained to the Government that Rotherham is being sent too many asylum seekers — but senior officials put a brave face on the situation.
Mr Kimber, Rotherham Borough Council’s chief executive, wrote to the Home Office asking them to ensure people seeking asylum are “distributed in an appropriate and equitable manner”.
A senior official in Migration Yorkshire, which deals with new arrivals in the region, said it was feared that G4S, which was awarded the contract to house asylum seekers in Yorkshire and Humberside last March, was basing housing decisions on rental prices without considering social cohesion, meaning Rotherham could be an easy target because rents are relatively low.
Rotherham is one of 28 local authority areas designated as an “asylum dispersal area” which may be asked to accommodate more people due to them having historically low levels of immigration.
And the number of asylum seekers in Rotherham increased from 334 in August 2012 to 450 in March this year — a 34 per cent increase.
But Dave Richmond, the council’s director of housing, stressed that Rotherham had a long-standing history of successfully hosting asylum seekers in the borough and would continue to welcome those in need.
According to the council, asylum seekers are sent to Rotherham on a no choice basis by the Home Office as part of the national dispersal programme introduced by the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
A Home Office spokesperson added: “Asylum seekers are located according to their individual needs and where there is available and appropriate housing.”