A councillor has called for ‘respect’ for asylum seekers after a group were housed at a Chorley hotel amid the national immigration crisis.
News that migrants were receiving bed and board at Best Western Park Hall Hotel, in Charnock Richard, sparked a storm of negative commentary online.
“The people who are being accommodated are people who are seeking asylum. To seek asylum is a legal requirement and I think they should be respected for that.”Coun Alan Whittaker
It is understood that 21 people were temporarily housed for a few days last week while their initial claim for asylum was considered.
They left on Friday.
The news led to concern including negative comments posted on travel review website Trip Advisor and phone calls to local politicians.
But Coun Alan Whittaker, who represents Chisnall on Chorley Council, said: “The people who are being accommodated are people who are seeking asylum.
“To seek asylum is a legal requirement and I think they should be respected for that.”
The Home Office contracts out the job of accommodating asylum seekers to private companies.
Serco has contracts to house asylum seekers in the North West, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Coun Paul Leadbetter, who also represents Chisnall and is leader of the Conservatives on Chorley Council, said he was contacted by around a dozen residents on Sunday.
Among them was a woman having second thoughts about booking her wedding at the hotel.
Coun Leadbetter said: “I appreciate these people need some privacy and they do need some protection from people who perhaps don’t understand their situation, but I am sure Serco could handle it a little bit better and inform people.
“My problem with it is they are being put up in hotels at public expense.”
It is understood that Serco would normally find places for them in the community, but is using budget hotels in response to the increased numbers of people they are currently required to accommodate.
A spokesman for Park Hall Hotel said: “We did have a booking from Serco. The guests are no longer staying with us and we won’t be taking any more bookings from them.”
Jenni Halliday, Serco’s contract director for the Compass project to house asylum seekers, said: “We are currently using budget hotels on a short-term basis to house around 100 asylum seekers until we can find alternative accommodation for them.
“The use of hotels does not cost the taxpayer anything extra.
“We ensure that the asylum seekers always have full access to healthcare services during this time.
“Our priority is at all times to make sure that they are safe and secure and are treated with dignity and respect.”
A Home Office spokesman said: ““We have made clear to our providers that the use of hotels is only ever acceptable as a short-term contingency measure. “
The controversy comes as thousands of migrants have been scaling fences near the Channel Tunnel and boarding freight trains or trucks destined for the UK.