First asylum seekers arrive at Blackpool’s Metropole Hotel overnight

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Scott Benton MP for Blackpool South has slammed the move as a ‘ridiculous decision’

 

The Grand Metropole Hotel on Sunday night (September 26)
The Grand Metropole Hotel on Sunday night (September 26) (Image: Bpl Bible/LancsLive)

The first asylum seekers have arrived at a prominent Blackpool hotel overnight after weeks of discussions surrounding their placement.

Late last night (September 26) and in the early hours of this morning (September 27), asylum seekers were pictured alighting a bus next to the seafront Metropole Hotel and heading into the building with their luggage.

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The move comes despite outrage from resort bosses over the decision to house more than 300 men, women and children at the hotel on Princess Parade, just off the Promenade.

It is believed that more asylum seekers will continue to arrive throughout Monday and into the week.

The placement has gone ahead despite protestations from Blackpool Council and both of Blackpool’s MPs, Scott Benton and Paul Maynard.

Earlier this month, the council paused proceedings by issuing a notice to Britannia Hotels, which owns the Metropole.

In a statement, council leader Coun Lynn Williams, said: “We have served notice on Britannia Hotels advising that if they close the hotel and use it for the purpose of housing asylum-seekers they will need planning permission for a change of use of the building.”

However, despite lengthy discussions with the Home Office and Serco, the company in charge of housing asylum seekers, the plans have now been put into action.

Scott Benton, MP for Blackpool South, has once again expressed his ‘disappointment’ over the move, calling it a ‘ridiculous decision’.

“I’m extremely disappointed that this placement of asylum seekers is going ahead. Placing a large number of people in a building which is not fit for purpose, at a time when public services in the resort are already under pressure, is a ridiculous decision.

“I’ve made my strong feelings on this issue clear to both government ministers and the council and I will continue to do so. Whilst many towns and cities across England already have, or have had, a placement of asylum seekers, so in this respect Blackpool is not unique, the use of this sub standard accommodation; the hotel’s location in our central holiday area; and the impact upon our local public services when they are already under pressure are all strong reasons why I don’t think this placement is acceptable.

“I would strongly urge the Council to do everything they can to challenge this placement and to examine whether it is permissible on planning grounds.”

Coun Williams previously slammed the decision, calling it ‘wholly inappropriate’ and ‘ill-conceived’.

“This is a closure of a large hotel and conversion to a hostel and that requires planning consent,” she said.

“The Government knows the problems we have here with HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and hostels and the impact on Blackpool, and yet we are expected to accept a very large HMO in the centre of Blackpool which is one of the most deprived areas of the country.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, also shared his concerns, adding: ““Any suggestion that plans are going ahead is deeply concerning. I will continue to urge ministers to seek alternatives, reduce numbers or anything to lessen the impact on the town’s essential services.

“I also hope the Council carry through their plans to enforce planning rules with regards to the Metropole Hotel which Ministers were clear would halt these proposals. SERCO may have a contract with Britannia Hotels, but that does mean either should ride roughshod over the people of Blackpool.”

Coun Lynn Williams has also expressed her disappointment with the Home Office and Serco.

LancsLive contacted the Home Office who declined to comment.