Residents in ‘millionaires’ village fury over plan to house asylum seekers at plush Scots hotel

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Residents of a ‘millionaires’ village are furious that a posh local hotel has been taken over by the Home Office to house up to 90 asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq and Somalia.

It is understood that, within days, the first arrivals from a temporary facility in Northern Ireland will check in to the award-winning Bothwell Bridge Hotel in South Lanarkshire.

Famed for its lavish weddings, the hotel boasts a contemporary Italian restaurant, ‘sophisticated’ bar, free wi-fi and a flat screen TV in every room.

As recently as last month, the hotel’s Facebook page has carried images of happy couples tying the knot and friends enjoying afternoon tea in the Tiramisu restaurant.

Local homes sell for upwards of £1 million and the area has become home to many highly-paid football stars, like Barry Ferguson of Rangers and Celtic’s Aiden McGeady.

Insiders say South Lanarkshire Council has not been involved in arrangements for the imminent relocation, believed to be for mostly single men, but that Home Secretary Priti Patel’s department has taken sole charge of the controversial scheme.

One local public figure said: ”This is not an ideal arrangement for a place like Bothwell. It’s a village. Asylum seekers have previously been relocated in places like East Kilbride, Glasgow, Falkirk and Edinburgh.

“There’s a very elderly population in the village and they are worried about what will happen to things like medical facilities. It’s not fair on the asylum seekers, either, as there is nothing for them to do here, not even a leisure centre.”

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The UK is in the grip of an asylum seeker crisis. Last year, the number of boat crossings on the English Channel soared by 61 per cent, with almost three quarters being adult men. A total of 254 people made the crossing on Monday of this week alone, despite threats from Priti Patel to transport asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing.

In 2019, the UK Government awarded three new 10-year contracts to the Mears Group to provide food and accommodation to people seeking asylum in this country.

A Mears spokesperson would not confirm the location of its South Lanarkshire block-booking, but said: ”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 , where Mears role, as contractor to the Home Office, is to place service users and support them while in accommodation.

“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.”

A Home Office spokesperson 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.

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“The Home Office does not comment on operational arrangements for individual hotels.”

Management of the Bothwell bridge Hotel could not be contacted for comment.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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