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Asylum Seekers Placed In ‘Unsuitable’ Blackpool Hotel

Asylum seekers placed in ‘unsuitable’ Blackpool hotel despite council protests

Blackpool council has accused the Home Office and Serco of deliberately acting to frustrate the justice system after placing asylum seekers in a hotel, despite objections that the accommodation was wholly unsuitable.

About 140 people, mostly families, have moved into the Grand Metropole on Blackpool promenade. Blackpool council had said using the hotel for temporary accommodation required planning consent and it had been going to seek a court injunction on Monday in an attempt to stop the arrangement.

The seaside resort is particularly busy at present. The Blackpool Illuminations light show runs until 3 January and the town is also hosting the World Fireworks Championships near the hotel, likely to cause disruption and noise to the hotel’s vulnerable residents.

Blackpool is the latest council to express concern about the suitability of housing asylum seekers in hotels. Earlier this month, a report documented the deterioration in the mental and physical health of asylum seekers in Glasgow when housed in hotels.

Lynn Williams, the Labour leader of Blackpool council, said the local authority was promised it would be informed in advance of any arrivals, and that nobody would be placed in the hotel before Monday at the earliest. However, people were moved in overnight on Sunday and in the early hours of Monday morning, with more expected this week.

Williams said the council had received no official notification until Monday lunchtime, despite the assurances sought on behalf of local health leaders, who said services were facing unprecedented demand.

The council leader said she was “further disappointed” that the Home Office and Serco had made the move after being informed the council was seeking an injunction, with a court hearing scheduled for Monday. “I am saddened that they have acted in a way that smacks of a deliberate move to frustrate the justice system,” she said.

Williams urged Blackpool residents to show compassion and understanding to the “very vulnerable families and children who have arrived with us here in Blackpool”. She said the council would work to ensure that the “appropriate support” was in place for the families, and would be reviewing its legal position.

Serco and the Home Office have been criticised for placing asylum seekers in Britannia hotels in Wolverhampton and Wigan this month. Lisa Nandy, the town’s MP, said that the hotel, which has been targeted by a far-right group, had previously been deemed “completely unsuitable accommodation” for asylum seekers.

The leader of Wolverhampton council, Ian Brookfield, also accused Serco of lacking humanity, when 200 Afghan families were placed in the city without warning. “Some of them have arrived here in a terrible state, there’s people with no clothes, no nappies for the kids,” Brookfield said. “We know Serco are running this, but they could at least put a little bit of humanity into it. As a council, we are left out of the whole process.”

Serco was one of the three outsourcing firms awarded the contract to house asylum seekers in 2019, despite having been fined nearly £7m for previous failings. The firm, which has the contract for housing in the north-west, the Midlands and the east of England, said hotels were used only as a “last resort”.

“With the significant increases in the number of people arriving in the UK we have been faced with no alternative but to temporarily accommodate some asylum seekers in hotels”, said Jenni Halliday, Serco’s contract director for asylum accommodation services.

According to Home Office statistics, there were 31,115 asylum applications in the UK in the year ending June 2021, 4% fewer than the previous year. The government has promised to allow 20,000 Afghan refugees to settle in the UK, with 5,000 expected to arrive by the end of 2021.

The Home Office said that the “unprecedented demand” meant temporary accommodation such as hotels has had to be used “to manage demands on the asylum estate”. It said the Home Office had met local police, public health providers and officers from Blackpool council, and that all hotels used by the Home Office met health and safety legislation.

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I Will Soon Start Signing Death Warrants- Bala Mohammed

Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed has disclosed that he will soon start to sign death warrants.

Mohammed made this known on Friday in Bauchi while signing the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill and a bill for the establishment of the Bauchi state penal code, into law.

In Nigeria, state governors are legally backed to sign the death warrants.

Since 2012, no governor has been reported to have signed death warrants.

“We will soon be signing some death sentences because there are many and because of justice which has to be taken to a logical conclusion

“I know some governors are running away from signing the death sentences because they exercise restraints on the basis that there may be some element of error.

“But to me, I will leave it to my lord (the chief judge) who will prosecute. It’s not my fault. If it is brought to my attention, I will do it.”

“As for the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act, we know that we are the first in the northern part of the country to enact the law, which is a member’s bill incidentally from the honourable speaker, and it has earned us a lot of respect in the country.

“But because of some noticed gaps, it was taken back and it was corrected. We thank the house for making the corrections.”

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Court Sacks 13 Ebonyi LG Bosses, 171 Councilors

A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki has again nullified the Ebonyi Local Government Elections and sacked all the 13 Council chairmen in the state.

The court also sacked all the councilors and 171 ward chairmen of the state.

The court had on Aug. 25, nullified the council polls of May 31.

Ruling on the matter with suit NO: FHC/AI/CS/224/2022 on Friday, Justice Fatun Riman ordered the seizure of the monthly federal allocation of the chairmen pending when rightful Chief Executives were elected into office.

Fatun restated that the councils election by the State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) on May 31 was illegal and unconstitutional.

Mr Mudi Erenede, Counsel to the plaintiff said he was happy over the judgment and commended the court.

“In the judgement today, the court has agreed that the Ebonyi State High court has no powers to override or set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court because it is not an Appeal Court.

“Those people, who are parading themselves as chairmen are not there legally.

“They were appointed by whoever that appointed them. CBN, Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance are all defendants in this suits,” he stated.

The counsel to Ebonyi State Government, Mr Roy Nweze, said there was no need responding to a judgment that had already been delivered by the court.

Nweze said that the matter would be appealed without delay.

(NAN)

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Naval College Graduates 245 Officers, Personnel

The newly graduated personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 of the Nigerian Naval Engineering College (NNEC), Sapele in Delta, have been urged to remain committed to the service of the nation.

Rear Adm. Monday Unurhiere, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Naval Training Command, made the plea at the graduation ceremony of the 245 Under Training Personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 in Sapele.

Unurhiere, represented by Rear Adm. Baratuaipri Iyalla, said that the call became necessary in view of the security, economic and social challenges currently facing the country.

The naval chief urged the graduands to make deliberate efforts to improve themselves on the job by way of taking advantage of modern technology and also tapping into the wealth of experience of their superiors.

“Let me remind you that as officers of the Nigerian Navy, you are charged with enormous responsibility and your unswerving allegiance is to the Nation.

“The confidence reposed in you must not be taking for granted, especially at this time that our national aspirations are being threatened by numerous security, economic and social challenges.

“As such, you may find yourself being called upon to serve beyond your technical capability due to the prevailing situation in the country,” he said.

Unurhiere acknowledged the efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, for creating the enabling environment for training and continued financial support to NNEC.

According to him, this has helped the College to contribute more to the technological advancement of Nigerian Navy and the nation at large.

He urged the graduands, especially the under training personnel, to maintain the current tempo in sustaining training and other naval activities.

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