A landmark Lanarkshire hotel this week strongly denied repeated rumors they are set to house immigrants for the Home Office.
Information had suggested that the three-star Bothwell Bridge Hotel was in talks with private housing provider, Mears Group, to provide temporary contingency accommodation for people seeking asylum.
People were also led to believe the hotel was being sold to the group.
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Following several posts on social media, members of the local community have in recent days speculated that an agreement is in place between the historic hotel and the Home Office to help house migrants displaced from the Middle East.
However, a spokesman for the Bothwell Bridge categorically denied it was in talks to provide such accommodation.
They also claimed the it was just all “rumours” and said that news suggesting the property had been sold was strictly “not true”.
The spokesman told Lanarkshire Live: “It is simply not true.
“We are aware of the rumors circulating and we would like to reassure the public that the hotel has not been sold and there are no plans to turn the hotel into refugee accommodation.
“We are operating business as usual.”
Hotel manager, Armando Cirignaco, previously told us that no discussion had taken place with the Mears Group to accommodate refugees, nor has the hotel been approached by them to assist in helping out.
It is understood the rumors circulated after a total of 60 refugees who crossed the English Channel by boat from Somalia were placed in the Bruce Hotel in East Kilbride at the start of the year, despite serious concerns from the local council and politicians.
A spokesman from the Mears Group did confirm this week that they have “contingency accommodation” in place across South Lanarkshire, but made no mention of the Bothwell Bridge Hotel.
He told us: “Due to the rise in the number of people seeking asylum hotels are being used as contingency accommodation by the Home Office across the UK, including in Scotland.
“We are working very closely and positively with local authorities and with other partners, including health and welfare teams and NGOs to provide support to our service users in hotels.
“For safeguarding reasons, it is not our practice to identify specific accommodation sites, although we can confirm we are using contingency accommodation in the South Lanarkshire area.”
The Mears Group say they do not “buy” or “operate” hotels as has been suggested, but that their role is to place service users into accommodation and support them while there, on behalf of the Home Office.
A post on social media this week led to hundreds of people commenting on the situation – many of whom were against the idea of asylum seekers moving into the village.
As well as unease locally, politicians also raised concerns at the immigrants, who are fleeing conflict and poverty from war-torn countries in the search for a better life in the UK, being housed in a hotel.
Commenting, Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley told us: “It is unacceptable to use temporary accommodation to house asylum seekers as hotels do not meet their wellbeing needs.
“I will be liaising with the Home Office and South Lanarkshire Council to ensure any asylum seekers in my constituency have access to suitable accommodation and the services they require.”
A Home Office spokesman told us this week: “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 Home Office does not comment on operational arrangements for individual hotels.”
The Bothwell Bridge Hotel is currently closed from Monday to Wednesday, only opening from Thursday to Sunday for weddings, meals and corporate events.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.