Fury as concerns are 'ignored' and asylum seekers are 'put up in prominent Blackpool hotel'
The decision to place hundreds of asylum seekers in a Blackpool hotel has gone ahead, ignoring concerns made by the council and resort MPs.
It is believed the first asylum seekers moved into the Metropole Hotel on the Promenade overnight following weeks of discussions and disagreements between the Home Office, the council and the hotel's owner Britannia Hotels.
It is understood that 141 asylum seekers, believed to be mainly women and girls, have already been placed in the hotel with more to arrive.
The asylum seekers arrived just hours before the council was due in court to apply for an injunction banning them from being housed at the Metropole, The Gazette understands.
Now they're in there, though, town hall lawyers face a much tougher task.
It follows on from the leader of Blackpool Council, Coun Lynn Williams, advising that the decision to go ahead with the placement was being blocked.
She 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."
Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said he hopes the council can challenge the decision.
He said: “I’m extremely disappointed that this placement of asylum seekers has occurred. 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 at all.
"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.
"My understanding is that 141 asylum seekers - mainly women and girls - have been placed into the Metropole so far and we are expecting this number to increase.
"I will be working with all of our local public service providers to try and minimise the impact of this settlement to local residents.”
Blackpool Council has been approached for comment on the decision.
Both the Home Office and Britannia Hotels have also been contacted for comment.