Tory MP says UK is spending too much on hotels for refugees
Converting a landmark Welsh hotel into a base for more than 200 asylum seekers would be like dropping a “nuclear bomb” on the local economy, residents claim.
Contractors are expected to start making changes to the four-star Stradey Park Hotel and Spa in South Wales as early as this week with the arrival of the first migrants anticipated on July 3.
There is intense local opposition to the plans, which residents fear will turn the plush venue in Llanelli into a “crowded hostel”.
It is also claimed as many as 60 weddings have been cancelled.
Labour councillor Edward Skinner is worried about potential job losses and the impact on businesses that supply the hotel.
He said: “If it happens it would be like a nuclear bomb for the community and local business. It’s going to be destruction. It will completely knock the tourism industry.”
Robert Lloyd, a campaigner against the plans, had a simple message for Home Secretary Suella Braverman: “She needs to think very quickly about this problem and put people’s minds at rest.”
Describing the town he said: “It has really reinvented itself from the old days when it was known for tinplate production and chimney stacks… Tourism is hugely important to us. This hotel represents more than 50 per cent of our high-quality bedroom accommodation. It would be a massive loss to the town.”
Even a spokesman for the Refugee Council has voiced his opposition.
He said: “The number of people fleeing war and conflict who are being housed in hotels is a result of the government’s mismanagement of the asylum system. Hotels are not the right place for refugees while they await news of their asylum claim and are not right for local communities.”
A petition has been launched on Change.org to stop the plans. One person who has signed it said: “I do not want to lose the beautiful Stradey Park Hotel to this insane plan. I do not want all the staff to lose their jobs.
“The services in Llanelli are stretched to breaking point.”
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Lee Waters, the local member of the Welsh Parliament, said: “Yet again the Home Office’s handling of emergency accommodation has caused community tensions and made a difficult situation worse. Taking over one of the few nice hotels in the area and turning it into a crowded hostel when we’re trying to improve tourism is upsetting people.”
There is cross-party unease about the plans, with Welsh Parliament Tory leader Andrew RT Davies telling the BBC that “ultimately I do not want this to go on in a hotel which provides local employment and local facilities”.
Former Shadow Welsh Secretary Nia Griffith claimed in the House of Commons that the hotel’s “multiple shareholders include those who have invested from an address in Russia”.
But Welsh Secretary David Davies said: “In one breath, the Labour-run Welsh government is claiming Wales is a ‘nation of sanctuary’, yet in the next they’re opposed to them being placed in a hotel.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We expect the Home Office to work with us and local government to seek a way forward. It is critical the Home Office provides full clarity to ensure plans are viable.”
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