SERCO has paused plans to evict 300 asylum seekers in the face of days of protests, culminating yesterday in demonstrators burning copies of eviction notices outside a Home Office building in Glasgow.

More than 100 people joined the rally in Brand Street which was backed by charity Positive Action in Housing, the Church of Scotland, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and local politicians.

Home Office contractor Serco wants to evict up to 330 asylum seekers in Glasgow who have been refused refugee status.

The demo yesterday morning followed a smaller protest outside the Brand Street building on Friday which saw the gates of the Government offices chained. Police were called out to the protest, and two men aged 45 and 58 were charged with minor public disorder offences. A protest in Glasgow city centre also attracted hundreds

of people.

In a statement issued after the protests yesterday, Serco said it would “pause all further lock-change notices to other asylum seekers who have received negative decisions whilst the law is being tested and clarified”.

It added: “This will also give stakeholders who support asylum seekers more time to prepare for what is likely to be an increase in the number of people seeking their help.”

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, was among the speakers at yesterday’s rally in Brand Street. She described the evictions as “immoral, irresponsible and frankly dangerous”.

“All our efforts this past week have been to avert a humanitarian disaster taking place on our streets as Serco slowly dumps 330 refugees and asylum seekers on to the streets of Glasgow with seven-day notices. These notices are being legally challenged in Scotland’s highest Court, the court of session.”

A copy of the eviction notice handed out by protesters, which included Serco’s logo and head office address, said: “You must now make urgent arrangements to vacate the property no later than August 6, 2018 ... if you fail to leave the property by the above date, action will be taken to repossess the property without further notice to you. That may involve immediate removal of yourself and your property.”

The campaign to stop the evictions has been backed by Jim Strang, who runs Parkhead Housing Association, which houses some asylum seekers. He suggested Serco agreements could be converted to temporary social housing tenancies, in a process known as “flipping”.

Strang said: “We can use our housing allocation policy to house these people. The only issue is how they pay rent. We are talking to local churches about providing a funding stream. Where there’s a will there’s a way.” The Home Office insists that those who have no right to remain in the country should leave the UK, and accommodation will only continue to be provided temporarily if there is a practical or legal obstacle to that.

Strang added that asylum seekers should be housed whether or not they have been refused the right to remain in the UK following an appeal.

He said: “They’re human beings – if they are cut they bleed just like us – and there’s enough destitution and poverty without adding to it. I’m disgusted with the decision and Serco and the UK Government must be brought to book over this.”

Serco revealed plans last weekend to begin changing the locks on asylum seekers’ accommodation.

The public services group said it had provided housing for months in some cases for those without the right to remain in the UK, without recompense from the Home Office and at a cost of more than £1 million a year, which it claimed should be borne by the local authority.

Shelter Scotland’s housing law service is to represent two of the asylum seekers facing eviction.

Director Graeme Brown said: “Our legal team will be presenting papers to Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday morning along with the legal services agency who act for a third individual to try and get interim orders that will prevent the lock-changes threatened to our clients.”

Serco chief executive Rupert Soames previously said lock-change notices would be given to no more than 10 people a week for the next four weeks, but last night the company clarified the position and said it would not begin enforcing the orders until ongoing court action had clarified its position.