Kent on Sunday breaks asylum hotel story

By Jean Morgan

Kent on Sunday, the newest free, regional Sunday newspaper, broke the “hotels for asylum seekers” story which has thrown the Home Office into confusion this week.

Its reporter Bernard Ginns revealed that Labour MP Derek Wyatt was to seek a judicial review of the Home Office decision to buy the private Coniston Hotel in Sittingbourne and open it as an induction centre for 111 asylum seekers.

Residents are upset that they have not been consulted over the measure and Wyatt told Ginns that he had taken the matter to the Prime Minister.

“The Home Office is completely out of order,” Wyatt told KoS, claiming that he has been frustrated at every turn to find out what was going on, with ministers missing meetings and ignoring phone calls.

The Home Office gave the town 19 days’ notice of the planned opening of the centre on 29 January. Ginns met with the same prevarication when he asked the Home Office press office last Friday why there had been no consultation and was met with a justification of the decision to open hotels to asylum seekers not only in Kent but nationwide.

Home Office minister Beverley Hughes has since said she was unhappy at the way officials had handled the deal for the hotel.

The KoS’s splash and page-six backgrounder were immediately picked up by national newspapers and television news programmes.

Ginns, who previously worked for KoS editor Ian Patel at the Hounslow Chronicle as news editor, said: “It was a good story for us to get.”

The KoS launched last September.

Jean Morgan

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