Latest on Leyland Hotel as Best Western apologises to wedding couples and Serco breaks silence on plans to house asylum seekers

Hotel chain Best Western has apologised to couples whose weddings were cancelled without notice after its Leyland Hotel struck a deal with the Government to house up to 150 asylum seekers.

By Matthew Calderbank
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 10:50 am

The Best Western, near the M6 in Leyland Way, closed its doors to the public on Monday (April 4) as it prepared to hand the keys over to Serco – the Government contractor responsible for housing those seeking asylum in the UK.

In a statement provided to the Post, Best Western took the opportunity to apologise to those whose weddings, proms and other functions were cancelled as a result of the new arrangement.

But the chain has also distanced itself from the hotel’s plans, saying the decision to hand over the rooms to Serco was made by the hotel’s owners, not Best Western.

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The Best Western Preston Leyland Hotel closed on Monday (April 4) as it prepares to house asylum seekers on behalf of the Government

A spokesman said: “All hotels Best Western works with are independently owned and independently managed, so all operational decisions are taken by the hotel's owners and management team, not the brand.

"The operational decision to close the hotel to the general public is therefore not one Best Western as a Head Office needs to investigate, but we are aware of the operational decision the hotel has chosen to make.

"We are sorry however, for the disappointment that the hotel’s public closure may cause for upcoming booked guests.

"In terms of Home Office/government contracts, the current guidance from the Home Office is for us to not make specific comments around the hotels that are chosen to take part in such contracts.”

Best Western added that the Leyland Hotel will remain part of its brand portfolio, despite it being closed to the public and not bookable via the brand’s websites.

It was unable to say when the hotel is likely to reopen to the public, but confirmed that all weddings and events booked for 2022 have been cancelled.

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Serco, the Government contractor responsible for housing asylums seekers, said it does not comment on the hotels it partners with.

“This is for the safety and wellbeing of the people in our care, given some of the activities of far right groups who have targeted them over the past months", said a spokesman for the company.

But Jenni Halliday – Serco’s contract director for asylum accommodation services – told the Post the hotel is being used as a ‘last resort’ as it struggles to find suitable accommodation for those seeking asylum in the UK.

She said: “With the significant increases in the number of people arriving in the UK we have been faced with no alternative but to temporarily accommodate some asylum seekers in hotels.

"These hotels are only used as a last resort but as a provider of accommodation services on behalf of the Home Office we have a responsibility to find accommodation for the asylum seekers that are being placed in our care.

"The Serco team is working extremely hard to move people into dispersed social housing as rapidly as possible.”

The Leyland Hotel itself has declined to comment on the arrangement.

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