The Residents’ Association of Emerson Park were this afternoon informed that plans to use the former Palms Hotel had been scrapped by the Home Office.

A spokesperson for the Home Secretary has stated that the use of the hotel was intended as a temporary measure during the coronavirus crisis, to house people who had already been granted asylum. It is not clear at this stage why the decision has been reversed.

Apparently, under normal circumstances, asylum claimants are given temporary accommodation while their claims are processed. Successful claimants are then moved out of this accommodation and have to seek their own housing. Due to the pandemic, there has been very little available accommodation in the community and this has caused a backlog of successful claimants still residing in their original temporary accommodation. The Home Office therefore sought to use the former Palms Hotel to ease the backlog.

Residents’ Association councillors whose constituencies border Emerson Park Ward, are unhappy that when Havering Council found out about the proposal in the middle of last week, they did not inform elected councillors but kept it quiet until the story broke over weekend. Since then they have provided little useful information, leaving councillors to rely on their own sources to find out what was happening.