Metropole Hotel confusion over finding Blackpool homes for asylum seekers

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Blackpool North MP Paul Maynard has said “the process of dispersal to other areas has commenced” while Home Office refuses to confirm any change in circumstance

 

Metropole Hotel, Blackpool
Metropole Hotel, Blackpool (Image: JThomas / Geograph)

Confusion is rife in Blackpool with one of its MPs saying the process of re-housing asylum seekers from a resort hotel has begun – despite the Home Office refusing to confirm this.

For seven weeks, 324 asylum seekers have been waiting in temporary contingency accommodation at the Metropole Hotel ahead of a move into more permanent premises in communities across the town.

The first asylum seekers arrived at the Metropole in late September after Serco stated that it had “no alternative” but to place them in here.

The move sparked much debate over the suitability of the accommodation with Blackpool Council stating that the hotel had to apply for the correct planning permission before housing any asylum seekers, as per the Home Office’s request.

And last month, the hotel received a one star food hygiene rating with “Major Improvement Necessary” due it inspectors identifying major issues with food hygiene and safety.

Many areas of the kitchen and restaurant, including a meat slicer which was found to have ‘meat residue’ on it, despite inspectors being under the impression it had been cleaned. Also listed in the report was dirt on a fridge, a freezer, a walk in freezer, the kitchen radio, the soap dispenser and the bonzer can opener.

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

The decision to temporarily house asylum seekers at the Metropole was also met with opposition from the town’s MPs who view the move as putting strain on services in an already deprived area.

Now, fresh enquiries from LancsLive regarding the re-housing process have seen Blackpool North MP Paul Maynard confirm that the process to move them from the Metropole and into the community has begun.

Mr Maynard also hit out at hotels being used in the first place, saying they were “deeply inappropriate” locations.

He told LancsLive: “I understand that no further asylum seekers have been accommodated at the Metropole, that no further hotels are planned to be used, and that the process of dispersal to other areas has commenced.

“This process must continue, as the hotel remains a deeply inappropriate place to house those applying for asylum in this country.

“I welcome the fact there are no further plans for Blackpool to be used for accommodation, but this must be monitored very carefully”.

However, when LancsLive approached the Home Office to reaffirm Mr Maynard’s words the government department refused to say if any of them had been re-housed yet.

Instead, it issued LancsLive with a generic statement that was weeks old.

LancsLive also understands that the impression at Blackpool Council is that asylum seekers remain in the Metropole waiting for a community to move to.

Thee Home Office statement said: “Due to unprecedented demand we have had to use temporary accommodation such as hotels to manage demands on the asylum estate.

“We’re working at pace to find permanent accommodation for asylum seekers across the UK and encourage all local authorities to volunteer their support and work with us to help achieve this.”

LancsLive re-approached the Home Office for further clarity but none was provided.