Latest on asylum seekers at Leyland Hotel as first families fleeing Ukraine move in

New details have emerged about the Best Western Leyland Hotel where asylum seekers are being housed on behalf of the Government.

By Matthew Calderbank
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 11:31 am

The hotel closed to the public on Monday, April 4 after its owners agreed a deal with the Government to accommodate those seeking asylum in the UK.

The deal meant weddings and other events booked for the months ahead were cancelled without notice, leaving couples scrambling to find alternative venues to save their big day.

This week, the Council has circulated a letter to residents to update them on the plans and to “dispel any concerns” they might have.

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The Best Western Preston Leyland Hotel closed on Monday, April 4 to accommodate up to 100 asylum seekers, including families from Ukraine

What did we learn from the Council update?

As the Post revealed on Friday, April 1, the hotel will be operated by a third party organisation called Serco, the Government contractor responsible for asylum services.

Up to 100 asylum seekers will be accommodated at the hotel, including families fleeing the war in Ukraine, whilst others are seeking refuge from the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The hotel has already welcomed its first arrivals and is expected to house more individuals in the weeks to come.

The Best Western Preston Leyland Hotel will house asylum seekers for the foreseeable future after closing to the public on April 4, 2022

Security guards have been hired to patrol the site 24/7 after Serco expressed concern for those staying at hotels it uses to house asylum seekers.

“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 Serco spokesman.

The hotel will be staffed around the clock but will remain completely closed to the general public ‘for the foreseeable future’.

Those staying in the hotel will remain until their application for asylum has been assessed, which is likely to take several months as the Home Office battles with a backlog of cases.

During their stay, they will be provided with food, washing and bathing materials and a laundry service. Small cash allowances are also provided, but this is funded by the Government, not the Council.

SRBC said it is not directly involved in the set up or the day-to-day running of the hotel, but said it is doing what it can to help those housed there.

This includes providing them with ‘welfare packs’ and in-house activities such as table tennis “to encourage physical activity and positive health and wellbeing”.

However, the Council has made it clear that it is not providing free access to Leyland Leisure Centre nor is the leisure suite in the Leyland Hotel open for use by those staying there.

The authority said it will remain in daily contact with the hotel and work alongside police, the NHS and Lancashire County Council to make sure everything is ‘running smoothly’.

The Council also asked residents to be “compassionate and supportive” to those seeking asylum in Leyland and to remain mindful of the hardships many have faced on their journey to the UK.

A Council spokesman said: “Community cohesion is extremely important to us and we are committed to ensuring the safety of everyone in South Ribble.

"We know that South Ribble has an incredible community spirit and we know from past experience that the support given by the community for those wishing to call South Ribble home has been amazing.

"We understand that this has moved very quickly and it may have come as a shock for some of you that the hotel would be used in this way but we’d ask that you remain compassionate and supportive of those people looking to find refuge in our country.”