Why hotel owners offered ‘thousands’ to house asylum seekers in Skegness turned it down

Owners of a Skegness hotel ‘struggling to keep their heads above water’ say they would rather lose it all than accept a deal from the Home Office to house asylum seekers.
Dee and Gary Allen have invested everything they had in Hhatters.Dee and Gary Allen have invested everything they had in Hhatters.
Dee and Gary Allen have invested everything they had in Hhatters.

Dee and Gary Allen bought the 29-room Crown Hotel in Drummond Road 14 months ago, selling everything they had to renovate it with an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Along with their three children, they upped sticks last July to move from their home in Ilkeston over the border to start what they hoped would be a fairy tale adventure.

Now renamed Hatters, Dee says they never realised how tough it would be to make a living when they opened in August last year – and to add to it all their business rates have now ‘tripled’.

However, in spite of twice being offered ‘thousands of pounds a week’ to take asylum seekers, Dee said she believes it would be ‘morally wrong’ to do so because she would have had to cancel guest bookings and ‘sack’ her staff.

"We were first asked in September last year – just a month after we opened – and then again this year ,” said Dee.

"We’d invested a lot of money in the hotel and have installed a new sports lounge as well as theming some of the rooms but we never realised how hard it would be.

"We haven’t made a profit yet but to get the £10,000 a week we would have had to cancel any bookings that we had, ask any guests to leave and sack our staff, including cleaners and kitchen staff,” she said.

"It’s shocking – beyond shocking. They can offer us all the money in the world and the answer will still be ‘no’.

"However hard things are at the moment we would rather lose everything.

"We will die with a smile on our faces because we believe we are doing the right thing.”

So that people can address their concerns to MP Matt Warman at the official public meeting at the Storehouse on Friday, Dee agreed to allow a ‘friendly’ gathering of concerned residents to take place at Hatters last night (Tuesday), so people can come up with questions to ask.