South Ribble MP raises 'serious concerns' over plans to house asylum seekers at Leyland Hotel

Plans to house asylum seekers at a hotel in Leyland has been opposed by the borough’s MP who says she has ‘serious concerns’ over the proposals.

By Matthew Calderbank
Monday, 4th April 2022, 11:18 am
Updated Monday, 4th April 2022, 1:05 pm

Katherine Fletcher, MP for South Ribble, said she has challenged the Home Office over the suitability of using the Leyland Hotel as temporary accommodation for those seeking asylum in the UK.

The Best Western, near the M6 in Leyland Way, will close today (Monday, April 4) after agreeing a deal with the Government and its immigration services partner Serco to house up to 150 asylum seekers.

Ms Fletcher said she opposes the plans due to ‘serious concerns’ over the hotel’s “isolated location and lack of access to local transport links or amenities”.

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

She also revealed the owners applied to use the Leyland Hotel to house asylum seekers in 2020, but Ms Fletcher said the Government rejected the proposal after she raised the same concerns.

In a statement provided to the Post, she said: “I don’t believe that this decision is the right one for the people of Leyland or those who may come to stay there.

"Whilst the people of South Ribble are warm, welcoming and friendly to those who need our help and support, I cannot agree with the decision to use the Leyland Hotel because of its isolated local environment and lack of access to public transport, green spaces or local shops.

"18 months ago, the hotel owners applied to use the Leyland Hotel as an accommodation point for asylum seekers, but this was rejected after I raised the points above.

Katherine Fletcher, MP for South Ribble, has challenge Government Ministers and Home Office officials over plans to use the Leyland Hotel as an accommodation site for asylum seekers

“I would reiterate what I said when I spoke to (Immigration Minister) Kevin Foster yesterday (Sunday, April 3) – what has changed in the last 18 months?”

The Conservative MP also shared South Ribble Borough Council's frustration with the Government’s approach, saying she was left in the dark and only learned about the plans after the deal was already agreed with the hotel’s owners.

You can read the statement from South Ribble Borough Council here.

Ms Fletcher has since held a series of meetings with Home Office officials and has spoken with the Immigration Minister in which she told him of her ‘serious concerns’ for local residents and the asylum seekers.

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

“I was only informed of this decision after it had been agreed locally,” she added, “and I have today written to Immigration Minister Kevin Foster to ask him to address these concerns immediately.”

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In the letter, she challenged the Government over the suitability of the Leyland Hotel, saying “the hotel is a long walk to the shops, is situated right next to a motorway, there are a lack of green spaces and a lack of public transport links”.

She added: "Despite its name, it is at least 45 minutes away from Preston city centre on public transport connections.”

According to Google Maps, the hotel is a 10-minute walk to both Leyland town centre and the train station, where services to Preston depart around every 20 minutes and reach the city in under 10 minutes.

The Government has refused to publicly discuss the plans, saying it “does not comment on operational arrangements for individual hotels.”

But the Home Office did say it has been in consultation with local authorities around Lancashire to identify ‘suitable temporary accommodation’ that can be used for this purpose.

Earlier this year, Park Hall Hotel in Charnock Richard closed its doors to the public and cancelled weddings after agreeing a deal with the Government to house asylum seekers. But the proposals were scrapped after Chorley Council objected, saying the location of Park Hall wasn’t suitable due to the lack of amenities and transport links.

Recently, the Ibis Hotel in Lancaster city centre closed to the public after agreeing to house asylum seekers on behalf of the Government.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We are dealing with an unprecedented increase in asylum cases but despite this we continue to ensure that the accommodation provided is safe, secure and leaves no one destitute.”

The hotel expects to remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future whilst Serco, the Government contractor overseeing the arrangement, makes efforts to move those seeking asylum into “dispersed social housing”.

Serco and Best Western have been approached for comment.

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