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Victory for Cumbrian town in grips of housing crisis as plans to house asylum seekers in eight rundown properties are shelved following furious protest

The residents of a Cumbrian town in the grips of a housing crisis have claimed victory after plans to house asylum seekers in eight rundown properties were shelved following a protest. 

There have been celebrations in Millom, Cumbria, after the Government announced a U-turn on plans to house around 40 asylum seekers in a town where public amenities are already stretched to breaking point. 

Almost 2,000 people joined an action group and public meetings were packed to the rafters as locals banded together to demand that the plans were scrapped.


Millom’s victory has seen action groups from other parts of the country contact the campaign leaders for advice on how to force out developers intent on securing lucrative Government-backed asylum contracts. 

Safety adviser Dean Myers, 49, started Millom Community Action Group after residents discovered at least eight houses across the town were being bought up by developers to be converted into Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).

Safety adviser Dean Myers, 49, is the figurehead of the action group

Safety adviser Dean Myers, 49, is the figurehead of the action group

Safety adviser Dean Myers, 49, is the figurehead of the action group

Another one of the properties that has been earmarked to house asylum seekers

Another one of the properties that has been earmarked to house asylum seekers

Another one of the properties that has been earmarked to house asylum seekers


The terraced how which had anti-asylum seeker graffiti spray painted on its side

The terraced how which had anti-asylum seeker graffiti spray painted on its side

The terraced how which had anti-asylum seeker graffiti spray painted on its side

At one stage as many as 20 houses were earmarked for asylum seekers, with as many as six single males occupying each one. 

The isolated town has no hospital, police station or NHS dentists, has only one GP surgery and 112 local families on a list for housing. 

Mr Myers said: ‘It is fantastic news for Millom that these plans have been stopped and we’re grateful to the Government for admitting they got it wrong. 


‘Millom simply didn’t have the infrastructure to support this planned influx and it was left to the people of this town to stand up for themselves.

‘Thankfully that is exactly what happened, we saw an incredible togetherness and community spirit, which is ultimately what led to a change of heart.

Dean Myers and Simone Faulkner outside the public meeting aimed at addressing the concerns of locals

Dean Myers and Simone Faulkner outside the public meeting aimed at addressing the concerns of locals

Dean Myers and Simone Faulkner outside the public meeting aimed at addressing the concerns of locals

Town Mayor Simone Faulkner said the nature of the developments only came to light when locals asked builders about the works

Town Mayor Simone Faulkner said the nature of the developments only came to light when locals asked builders about the works

Town Mayor Simone Faulkner (pictured) said the nature of the developments only came to light when locals asked builders about the works


‘The community group has almost 2,000 supporters and the meetings that were being held were full because the town came together with a common goal. 

‘It is 45 minutes to the nearest A and E department or police station and we have vulnerable local people who can’t find anywhere to live.

‘And yet we discovered that without any consultation or thought, we were about to have dozens of asylum seekers introduced into the community and people were not going to stand for it.

‘This is not about prejudice, Millom is a town that welcomes people in need. But it was completely unsuitable for what they had planned.


‘Since it became clear that we’d managed to get the decision reversed, people from other communities have been getting in touch to ask how we did it. 

‘They’re facing the same issues and the only answer is for their community to come together as ours did and show a united front.’ 

Trudy Harrison, the Conservative MP for Copeland, announced a ban on HMO licences in Millom at a public meeting.

She told a packed Millom Palladium: ‘I was pleased we got a nigh on immediate pause and I’m pleased that I think that will become a permanent solution.’ 


She added: ‘With regards to Millom I’ve always taken a zero tolerance approach to HMOs for asylum seekers given the distance we are – 23 miles from Barrow, 32 miles from Whitehaven, 40 miles probably to Workington. 

‘We are a long way from other large service towns, we have a long distance from our police stations, we are an isolated town.

‘I agree that consultation should have taken place – but if it had taken place I would have given exactly the same response.’

The furore began in January with the posting of a video on Facebook by a property development company with close links to leading asylum accommodation providers Serco and Mears. 


The town of Millom in Cumbria - with a population of 5,700 - is in the grips of a housing shortage

The town of Millom in Cumbria - with a population of 5,700 - is in the grips of a housing shortage

The town of Millom in Cumbria – with a population of 5,700 – is in the grips of a housing shortage

This map shows the locations of the houses that will be turned into housing for asylum seekers in Millom, a small seaside town in Cumbria

This map shows the locations of the houses that will be turned into housing for asylum seekers in Millom, a small seaside town in Cumbria

This map shows the locations of the houses that will be turned into housing for asylum seekers in Millom, a small seaside town in Cumbria

The side of one of the terrace houses marked for development to house asylum seekers was spray painted with the message: 'Not welcome scum'

The side of one of the terrace houses marked for development to house asylum seekers was spray painted with the message: 'Not welcome scum'

The side of one of the terrace houses marked for development to house asylum seekers was spray painted with the message: ‘Not welcome scum’

One of the terrace houses which is planned to house asylum seekers

One of the terrace houses which is planned to house asylum seekers

One of the terrace houses which is planned to house asylum seekers


It showed the developer giving a tour around the property whilst saying: ‘We are going to convert this house into a six bedroom social HMO. 

Once ready we will receive a long term lease, guaranteed income, no maintenance and no voids.’

In a wave of anger, anti-asylum graffiti began appearing on houses earmarked for conversion, bricks were hurled through windows in some properties and builders found tyres slashed on their vans. 

On the side of one house under renovation in a terraced residential street, the words ‘not welcome scum’ have been daubed in large black letters. 


A letter from the Home Office confirming that properties in Millom would not be used to house asylum seekers

A letter from the Home Office confirming that properties in Millom would not be used to house asylum seekers

A letter from the Home Office confirming that properties in Millom would not be used to house asylum seekers 

Millom Town Council appealed for local people not to take the law into their own hands. 

In a statement they said: ‘We urge local people to uphold the law and let this be dealt with through the correct channels.’ 


Town Mayor Simone Faulkner said: ‘The plans only came to light because people started talking to the contractors working on the houses and it was them that warned people that asylum seekers would be living there.

‘We heard nothing from the companies with contracts to house asylum seekers, that has all happened without any kind of consultation.’

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The government continually reviews the appropriateness of different sites for use as asylum accommodation.

‘We are working across government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options to reduce the unacceptable use of hotels which cost £8 million a day.’


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