Skegness hotel owner 'turned down £10,000 a week' to house asylum seekers

Hatters Hotel Skegness

A hotel owner says she turned down £10,000 a week to house asylum seekers because she was concerned about the impact it would have on the area.

Dee Allen, who owns Hatters Hotel in Skegness, Lincolnshire, said she was offered the "obscene" sum to close her hotel and house 52 refugees for at least three months.

Mrs Allen, 35, who co-owns the hotel with her husband, told the Lincolnshire Live website: "We said at the time that we would never, ever do that to the community."They were also saying to us that it would be for an indefinite amount of time, not for just three months. They came back to us about four weeks ago and made us the same offer but we said 'no', because our morals just wouldn't allow it."

At least five hotels in Skegness have reportedly accepted the Home Office's offer to house asylum seekers as the government struggles to cope with the number of migrants arriving via the Channel in small boats.

Tensions boiled over at a town council meeting in Skegness on Wednesday when residents confronted councillors about the situation.

An extraordinary meeting has been called for later this month.

Matt Warman, the MP for Skegness and Boston, said the situation was the result of the immigration system "creaking at the seams" and the town was "not the best place" for asylum seekers to be housed in hotel accomodation.

Mrs Allen bought her hotel 18 months ago and said the business was struggling, but added: "We'll plough through and if we fall on the ground and hit rock bottom, that will be it. We will never, ever, ever accept the money."

She said it was "heart-wrenching" to see what was happening in Skegness.The Home Office has admitted that using hotels to accommodate asylum seekers is "unacceptable".

In previous statements it has said: "The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain."The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently more than 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6million a day. The use of hotels is a short-term solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation."Serco, which is contracted by the government to provide accommodation for the asylum seekers entering the UK, said the use of hotels is a "last resort".

Jenni Halliday, the company's contract director for asylum accommodation, said: "With the significant increases in the number of people arriving in the UK we have been faced with no alternative but to temporarily accommodate some asylum seekers in hotels."These hotels are only used as a last resort but as a provider of accommodation services on behalf of the Home Office we have a responsibility to find accommodation for the asylum seekers that are being placed in our care. The Serco team is working extremely hard to move people into dispersed social housing as rapidly as possible."

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