Council blunder leads to Knaresborough addresses of child asylum seekers published online

A blunder by staff at North Yorkshire Council meant the addresses of Knaresborough properties where vulnerable asylum seeking children are set to be housed were published online.

Conservative executive member for housing Simon Myers admitted the mistake at a full meeting of the council in Northallerton yesterday.

Four Grade II listed properties on Knaresborough High Street were derelict for decades before being bought and refurbished by the defunct Harrogate Borough Council in 2019.

The homes were up for sale until recently but Cllr Myers said they were taken off the market in order for North Yorkshire Council to meet its legal obligation to house young asylum seekers.

A public decision notice was then published online which outlined the council’s intention for the properties, which Cllr Myers said was a mistake.

He was responding to a question from Liberal Democrat councillor for Knaresborough East Hannah Gostlow who asked Cllr Myers if he felt it was appropriate to publicise the location of where asylum seekers will be living.

Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch warned that there could be more violent attacks by members of far-right and anti-immigrant groups on hotels housing asylum seekers.

Cllr Myers said:

“It was a mistake. It has now been rectified. A decision was taken quickly and perhaps not thought out as well as it might have been.”

After being asked by Cllr Gostlow in a follow up question if steps have been taken to ensure the error isn’t repeated with future properties, Cllr Myers said:

“I think both the children’s social care and housing departments are aware of the mistake they made and will make sure such a mistake is not made again.”

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter