PLANS to use properties in Millom as homes for asylum seekers have been 'paused' following vandalism and criminal damage.

The Conservative MP for Copeland Trudy Harrison convened a meeting with representatives from Cumberland Council.

The council confirmed it was aware that Serco was seeking properties for conversion to houses of multiple occupations (HMOs) for housing asylum seekers as part of the Government's Asylum Dispersal process, according to Ms Harrison. 

Dispersal accommodation is longer-term temporary accommodation managed by accommodation providers on behalf of the Home Office. 

Ms Harrison explained the grounds to object to HMOs are 'limited', and instead, they have secured a 'pause' on all Serco's licensing activities in Millom. 

A public statement issued by Millom Town Council said Serco has 'guaranteed' there will be a pause in procurement and no properties will come into use until all relevant meetings have taken place and the Home Office has made a decision. 

The Home Office, responsible for housing asylum seekers in the UK, said it would continue to 'work closely' with the local authorities in Millom.

Read more: Police investigate after obscene graffiti is scrawled on property in town

A spokesperson for Cumbria Police explained that the Whitehaven Neighbourhood Policing Team are investigating a number of incidents of criminal damage.

A house in Millom was daubed with the words 'not welcome scum' and 'scum out'. The same happened to a local business. 

Both incidents were reported to Cumbria Police on January 29 and 30.

They said: "The incidents include damage to properties on Albert Street, Holborn Hill and Nelson Street and damage caused to a vehicle.

"Criminal damage will not be tolerated, and officers are investigating each incident and will deal robustly with any offenders. Patrols have been increased in the area with officers paying attention to identified areas."

A Home Office spokesperson said they 'condemn' any vandalism in the 'strongest possible terms.'

It said: "We condemn any vandalism in the strongest possible terms. We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being put on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country over recent years.

“The Home Office has a duty to provide safe and secure housing for asylum seekers and we are continuing to work closely with local authorities in Millom, to manage any impact in the area and address the local communities concerns.”