‘Broken system’ blamed for Blackpool Metropole Hotel asylum seeker placement

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“Our Nationality and Borders bill will fix this broken system to deter these dangerous and illegal crossings.”

 

Metropole Hotel, Blackpool
Metropole Hotel, Blackpool (Image: LancsLive)

The temporary placement of hundreds of asylum seekers at a prominent seaside hotel in Blackpool has been blamed on a “broken system”.

The past few weeks have seen discussions between the Home Office, Serco, Britannia Hotels, MPs and the general public over the suitability of the Metropole Hotel on Princess Parade as temporary housing for hundreds of asylum seekers.

On Sunday night (September 26) and early Monday morning (September 27), the first of more than 300 men, women and children alighted a bus outside the Britannia-owned hotel just off the Promenade.

It is believed that their placement will be ‘temporary’, but concerns have yet been raised by the council and other authorities over the suitability of the location, with Blackpool Council leader Lynn Williams saying that the decision was ‘wholly inappropriate’ and ‘ill-conceived”.

Lancashire Constabulary and health leaders have also raised several questions about the rationale of placing vulnerable people in such a high-profile tourist location.

Blackpool MPs Scott Benton and Paul Maynard both stated that they have previously raised concerns and see the move as damaging to Blackpool.

Blackpool Council felt no proper consultation was made with public services, with Coun Williams adding that she feels this is ‘a marriage of convenience between the Home Office and Britannia Hotels’.

Asylum seekers pictured heading into the Metropole Hotel
Asylum seekers pictured heading into the Metropole Hotel (Image: Bpl Bible/LancsLive)

The Home Office has since addressed concerns over the location of the placement, saying in a statement yesterday (September 29): “Due to unprecedented demand we have had to use temporary accommodation such as hotels to manage demands on the asylum estate and we encourage all local authorities to volunteer their support and work with us.

“The Home Office has been clear about the use of asylum accommodation in Blackpool and we have been communicative with the Council’s Chief Executives, and have met with local stakeholders such as police and public health providers, as well as officers from the local authority.

“All the hotels the Home Office uses must meet relevant health and safety legislation and provide their latest health and safety risk assessment.”

The Home Office added that the Nationality and Borders bill will fix ‘this broken system’ to deter these ‘dangerous and illegal crossings.’

Despite the Government’s insistence that the health and safety legislation has been met, Blackpool Council is now considering legal action after the first men, women and children were dropped off in a late night operation on Sunday (September 26) with no prior warning.

Councillors had wanted the Metropole hotel to seek planning permission before using the building to accommodate people en masse.

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