A councillor is calling for legal action to close a hotel housing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
Labour councillor Bella Sankey is putting the proposal to a special Brighton and Hove City Council meeting with more than 136 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children having gone missing from the area since July 2021.
Her motion also calls for all youngsters who are currently at the hotel to go into council care placements across the country.
Councillor Sankey said: “The national press has reported whistle-blower and child protection testimony stating that serious organised crime have targeted these children, kidnapping them from the hotel where they have been abandoned.
“This catastrophic breakdown in child safeguarding shames our great city and undermines our status as a City of Sanctuary.”
Councillor Sankey, who is a trained lawyer and human rights campaigner, wants the council to instruct external legal experts in public, immigration, asylum and human rights law.
She wants an expert opinion on the council’s obligations under the Children Act 1989 and the legal options for closing the hotel and rehousing the young people.
And she is calling for a “child safeguarding practice review panel” to investigate the council’s role in the disappearance of the children, including all safeguarding acts and omissions.
Out of the 136 or more youngsters missing from Hove, 76 remain unaccounted for.
When Councillor Sankey raised the issue at a meeting of the full council in December, Green leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said that he had repeatedly challenged the Home Office on the issue.
Green deputy leader Hannah Allbrooke, who chairs the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, said: “We wrote to the Home Secretary within 24 hours of hearing that they had placed the first hotel in this city without the consent or knowledge of this council.
“I am and continue to be very worried about the Home Office’s response to providing care to vulnerable children.”
Last month, a senior safeguarding official shared figures indicating that 62 children, or almost half of those who had vanished, went missing in just two months last year – August and September.
More than 90 per cent of the children who had gone missing were Albanian, possibly because they were “disenfranchised” by the asylum process, according to the official, Justin Grantham.
The special council meeting is due to start at 4pm on Thursday 2 March at Brighton Town Hall. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.