Fears Skegness will become 'camp for refugees' after fifth hotel confirmed

Fears have been expressed that Skegness will become a ‘camp for refugees’ after renewed claims a fourth hotel in the resort is to be taken over by refugees.

Lights on at the County Hotel in Skegness
Lights on at the County Hotel in Skegness

The County Hotel on North Parade was put on the market in November 2019 for £1million and closed earlier this year after being sold, with the loss of 10 staff.

There were hopes the historic hotel which was built in the 1930s would be returned to its former glory when sources told our newspaper the new owners were planning to ‘throw thousands at it and revamp it floor by floor over time’.

However, rumours that the hotel was to be used for refugees have persisted, in spite of Home Office assurance that the use of seaside hotels for this purpose was ‘unacceptible’.

Asylum seekers outside a fourth seafront hotel trhat was confirmed over the weekend.

SERCO – ( which has a government contact to provided accommodation, transportation and subsistence payments for asylum seekers whilst their claims are being processed) – said they were unable to confirm ‘on individual hotels we are using to accommodate asylum seekers for the safety and wellbeing of the people in our care’

However, our attempts to book a room failed on booking.com with the automated apology ‘”We're sorry, but this property isn't taking reservations on our site right now”.

In the meantime the ‘short-term solution’ for refugees at the three hotels currently being used – which we have been asked by SERCO not to name – has now stretched to a total of nine months and local councillors fear the situation will only get worse.

Concern about groups of men gathering in groups around Skegness was raised in February by Skegness Town Council after councillors received complaints local people were feeing intimidated.

"I don't want to cause unnecessary anxiety by saying this but it seems numbers of asylum seekers are being held in hotels in Skegness for indefinite periods and the community is being left in the dark," said John Byford in the public meeting ahead of the night's agenda.

"People are seeing groups of men around town and this is causing anxiety and fear amongst locals. People have a right to know what is going on."

As the rumours regarding the County Hotel spread, a discussion was sparked on social media.

"There are real concerns Skegness will become a camp for refugees,” said Coun Danny Brookes.

"I was called by one concerned B&B owner who was approached by SERCO and offered a deal to take refugees.

"People are worried that in the winter when there is no money coming in – and with concerns about the cost of living crisis – more hotels will accept these offers.

"We are a family resort and it would be so bad if the asylum seekers were families – but they are single young men and when they gather in groups around town people do feel intimidated.

"We don’t want Skegness to become like Jaywick that was featured in the TV documentary Benefits By the Sea, but that is what will happen if nothing if we keep getting more and more refugees because families will stop coming.”

According to the Home Office, there are currently more than 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6 million a day. The cost of accommodating Afghans in bridging hotels is £1.2million a day.

Hotels are a short-term solution to the global migration crisis and we are working hard to find appropriate dispersed accommodation for migrants, asylum seekers and Afghan refugees as soon as possible.

A Home Office spokesperson said they do not comment on operational arrangements for individual sites used for asylum accommodation. However they commented: “Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with support whilst we consider their claim for international protection.

“This includes free accommodation and utilities as well as a weekly allowance and additional provisions for families with a baby or toddler who are accommodated in contingency hotels. Asylum seekers in hotels are provided with three meals a day.

”We engage with local authorities as early as possible whenever sites are used for asylum accommodation and work to ensure arrangements are safe for hotel residents and local people.

"We would urge local authorities to do all they can to help house people permanently.

Jenni Halliday, Serco’s Contract Director for Asylum Accommodation Services, 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.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman hit the headllnes when she described the situation as an ‘invasion’.

On November 6, she tweeted: “Britain is generous and compassionate. Illegal migration needs fixing and we will do whatever it takes to stop the boats.”

Writing on the Mail Online, she said: “The truth is that the British people are fed up with the number of boats reaching our shores.

“It is not right that the British people are picking up a £2 billion bill every year because the asylum system has been broken by an unprecedented wave of illegal migration.”

MP for Boston and Skegness Matt Warman said: “ I have had a number of constituents understandably contact me about reports that the County Hotel in Skegness has been acquired for the purpose of housing asylum seekers on behalf of the Home Office.

“I've said before that the use of hotels is a sign of the immense strain the immigration system is under - the Home Secretary and the PM have to deliver on their promises to tackle the numbers arriving in the first place and break the model of the people traffickers.”