Leader of Wakefield Council calls for urgent action at Urban House

31/07/2020, PR-9498A

​The Leader of Wakefield Council is calling for urgent action to sort out the conditions at Urban House, following the publication of a Government report.

Earlier this month, an outbreak of COVID-19 was identified at Urban House, which is an initial accommodation centre used by people who have asked for asylum. It is run by the Mears Group, a housing care provider, under a Home Office contract. 

In response to the outbreak, where 21 people tested positive for COVID-19, Wakefield Council's Public Health team took measures to try and safeguard all residents at the centre and to ensure that the operators also took appropriate action to reduce the spread of infection.

A Home Affairs Select Committee report published this week (28 July) identified that residents are continuing to use shared rooms and bathroom facilities, and that despite a clear recommendation against this practice, there is no intention by Mears or the Home Office to stop this in Wakefield. 

Cllr Denise Jeffery
Cllr Denise Jeffery

Cllr Denise Jeffery said: “We are extremely disappointed to learn from the report that some providers have agreed to end shared living in these type of facilities, with the Mears’ centre in Wakefield not considering this.

"The Select Committee have now made a clear recommendation against the use of shared rooms, yet this is being ignored for Wakefield. At a time of a global pandemic, and the threat of an imminent second wave, I am extremely concerned that this is putting the residents in the centre unnecessarily at risk.

"It is unacceptable to expect people who are not even part of the same family to be made to share bedrooms and bathrooms yet still follow all the guidance aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

"I am now calling upon the Home Office to act quickly to make this building safe for all users or to cease its use immediately."