Inside hotel that houses asylum seekers in £85-a-night rooms after sacking 75% of its staff to accommodate… – The Sun

A SHORT stroll from the centre of picturesque Buckingham, the local Best Western hotel has recently been complimented on its “excellent” staff.
Now 31 of its 40-strong workforce has been fired after the hotel signed a deal to house asylum seekers rather than paying guests.
One staff member told The Sun: “Asylum seekers need to be housed, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of jobs.”
Hotel bosses told employees they were being axed because the venue’s catering operation was being scrapped completely, with other guest services slashed to a minimum.
The move is part of a wider government strategy to locate hotels throughout the UK to house migrants, then remove workers and replace them with Home Office staff.
News of the job losses come as the Home Office scrambles to find emergency accommodation after more than 35,000 migrants crossed the English Channel by dinghy this year.
In August, it emerged taxpayers were picking up a staggering £5million tab per day to house migrants in hotels.
The Best Western worker added: “We’re being kicked out of our jobs amid the worst cost of living crisis for a generation.
“Some staff live on site, so they’ve lost their homes too.”
Migrants lodging at the 71-room Buckingham Best Western said they feel sympathy for sacked staff.
An Iraqi migrant, 20, who crossed the Channel by boat 25 days ago, said: “I feel very bad for workers who lose their jobs. I would like to say sorry to them.
“I only came here because I am persecuted in my home country, where they threaten to kill me.”
And a Sudanese asylum seeker who said his name was Omer insisted: “Of course we feel bad for the hotel workers if some no longer have jobs.
“But we do not get a say in where they decide to keep us.”
Sources told The Sun the Home Office had agreed to pay the Buckingham hotel’s owners £85 a night for each double room.
If each was filled for a year, the deal would cost taxpayers £2.2million.
Iraqi migrant Ahwis, 21, told us: “The hotel is terrible. The worst thing is the food.
"They give us terrible Indian food which none of us like. None of us are Indian.
“Sometimes it actually makes me throw up, so I go hungry.”
The Home Counties hotel is run as a franchise by eight family members, some of whom live in a £1million house.
Workers were handed redundancy letters in September.
The source added: “Bosses are being quite open about the contract. They say it’s just too good to turn down.”
Recent TripAdvisor reviews slam the hotel, which claims to be “family run and full of character”.
One visitor wrote: “Awful. This is one of the worst hotels I’ve ever stayed in.”
Though a contented TripAdvisor reviewer said in September: “The restaurant is very good and the staff are excellent.”
Bookings are no longer being taken online.
The Home Office plans to re-open two immigration detention centres to house men who are either foreign national offenders or failed asylum seekers.
The Home Office said: “We are dealing with an unprecedented increase in asylum cases and are working to find appropriate long-term accommodation and end the unacceptable use of hotels to house asylum seekers.
“On-site employment is a matter for accommodation owners.
“However, we expect the highest standards from all our providers, and there are robust measures in place to ensure these are met.”
The hotel and its owners failed to respond to repeated requests for comment.
The dragnet for suitable hotel accommodation for migrants has been spread across Britain to help cope with new arrivals.
This week the owner of historic and plush Camelot Castle hotel in Tintagel, Cornwall, claimed he had been offered £1million by a company working for the Home Office to house migrants for a year.
Millionaire boss John Mappin said agents had offered to rent every room but they warned him he would have to sack most of his workforce.
The hotel owner said: “They also expected us to fire all but three of our existing staff, as food and cleaning would be organised by the Government.
“While it would have been a very profitable move, we decided that the local community in Cornwall and Tintagel might be better off without such contracts.”
Councillors in Stoke-on-Trent have spoken out against Home Office plans to use all 88 rooms of the historic North Stafford Hotel to house asylum seekers.
Abi Brown, leader of the Conservative-run city council, said the move is a “step too far”.
Built in 1849, the ornate Grade II-listed building is well known to travellers for its position opposite Stoke railway station.
It is popular with football fans stopping off for a drink before travelling to Stoke City’s Bet365 Stadium.
Councillor Brown said she wanted other areas of the country to share responsibility for housing asylum seekers.
She added: “At one point Stoke-on-Trent had one of the highest rates of asylum seekers per head of population in the country.
“I know we’re all proud of being a welcoming city. However, over the past few years we’ve become increasingly aware that this generosity was being taken advantage of by successive governments of all political colours through their refugee and asylum policies.”
Housing migrants in hotels has been an issue for quite some time.
Last year the Sun on Sunday revealed that some Afghans said conditions at the Grand Hotel Scarborough were so poor that they wanted to return to their homeland.
Afghan heroes of the conflict in their home country, including translators who had helped British forces, were among those having to stay in the appalling conditions.
Our reporter Graeme Culliford, who checked into a room at the hotel, found brown sewage surging through the bath plug whenever the toilet flushed.
Buckets were placed in the corridors to catch water dripping from the ceiling and a team of exterminators arrived to catch a rat living in the boiler room.
One guest said in a review of the hotel: “It makes Fawlty Towers look like The Ritz.”
To attempt to break the hotel log jam, previous Home Secretary Priti Patel earmarked a former RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorks, to house 1,500 migrants.
But following uproar from locals, the plans — which would have cost £32million over two years — were shelved in August.
Humanitarian groups say hotels are “entirely unsuitable” for refugees fleeing war and violence.
Chief executive of the Refugee Council, Enver Solomon, said: “Hotel accommodation for refugees is an unsettling and stressful experience, and the Home Office itself states that it should only be used as a last resort and for a short period of time.”
Yet The Sun spoke to Afghan migrants who have been living in a hotel in Southend, Essex, for a year after fleeing Kabul.
More than 13 months after arriving in Britain, Afghanis Siddiq Naziri, 18, his twin brother Omer and their cousin Haroon Jalil, 22, still languish in the three-star Park Inn by Radisson Palace Hotel.
All three have been granted leave to remain in the UK.
Student Siddiq revealed in his excellent English: “We are grateful for all the help we have received from the British government but we are still waiting for accommodation.
“We have been living in this hotel for a year now. It’s a nice place but there are guests staying here and we would like a home of our own.”
Student Siddiq, who works in a fried chicken shop at the seaside resort, says he would like to move near to his 11-year-old sister, who has hearing problems and lives with an aunt in Grays, Essex.
The cricket-mad youngster added: “People in Britain are so nice and have really helped us.
“I want a home of my own. One day I would like to work in real estate.”
A Southend-on-Sea City Council spokesperson said the hotel “remains under contract by the Home Office as a bridging hotel for Afghan evacuees”.
They added: “The longer-term aim is to get families into settled accommodation nationwide.”
The Home Office acknowledged that hotels don’t “provide a long- term solution” under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, adding “they do offer safe, secure and clean accommodation”.
They point out that Britain has provided homes for nearly 7,400 Afghan evacuees, but “there is a shortage of local housing accommodation for all”.
Yet the demand is likely to continue to soar.
On Wednesday, 856 cold and hungry migrants crossed the Channel in small boats.
With Britain’s housing stock creaking, it is likely most will end up in expensive hotel rooms.
HOME Secretary Suella Braverman pledged at last month’s Conservative party conference to “do more to get asylum seekers out of hotels”.
Across Britain they are being used to house migrants as the nation experiences a chronic housing shortage.
A report from think tank Migration Watch UK from September claimed taxpayers are shelling out nearly £1.3billion a year to pick the hotel tab for asylum seekers.
More than 35,000 people have come to the UK this year on small boats, the highest figure since records began.
The Home Secretary pledged to push ahead with plans to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda in central Africa, which she hopes would act as a deterrent.
She said it was her “dream” and “obsession” but doesn’t expect any flights to leave until after Christmas due to ongoing legal challenges.
Ms Braverman has vowed to reduce net migration to tens of thousands of people despite the failure of successive governments to do so over a nine-year period.
Her predecessor, Priti Patel, also pledged to be tough on illegal migrants – yet the numbers went up when she was in office.
The Government is seeking a new deal with France to increase French patrols of the coastline around Calais.
The UK border force could patrol French beaches under a new cash deal.
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