Serco, the outsourcing group, has apologised for what the Home Office described as the “totally inappropriate” use of a stretch limousine to transport a group of asylum seekers from London to Manchester.
Images have emerged of a 16-seat Hummer in the village of Longford, near Heathrow, where a hotel has been using houses to provide temporary accommodation for asylum seekers.
Reacting to reports that the vehicle was used to move a number of people to Manchester from the village, the Home Office indicated that the vehicle had been hired by Serco and said on Tuesday that it had expressed “strong disapproval”.
A spokesperson said: “Our contractors are responsible for arranging the transport of asylum seekers and bear the cost of doing so. However, this incident was totally inappropriate and Serco has apologised.
“The terms of our contract with Serco requires them to take all reasonable steps to ensure transport is appropriate. We have reminded the company of their contractual obligations and expressed our strong disapproval. There was no additional cost to the taxpayer.”
A group of seven men were reportedly taken in the vehicle from the hotel where they were staying while their claims were processed to their new homes.
Rana Saif, who runs a local pub in the village, told the Daily Mail: “The limo was here about half an hour. I thought it must be a stag do. There were seven migrants, all young African men.
“The driver said he was going to take them to Manchester and he was being paid £3,000. He said the Home Office would pay him.”
The village has been the focus of a number of reports among local reaction to the provision of accommodation by the hotel, Heathrow Lodge, to asylum seekers. The Home Office says that it is used for one or two days before individuals are dispersed into temporary accommodation.
A spokesperson added: “Decisions on the use of hotel accommodation, including which premises are used, are made by individual contractors who bear the cost. We have made clear to our providers that the use of hotels is only ever acceptable as a short-term contingency measure. We are taking steps with providers to ensure that this is the case.”
This article was written by Ben Quinn, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 14th October 2015 01.11 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010