Two Perth hotels closed to house refugees who receive £7 a week

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Two of Perth’s biggest and most important hotels are closed to accommodate dozens of refugees.

The Station Hotel and the Queens Hotel, both on Leonard Street, have contracts with the British government to house the displaced.

We are also not accepting reservations from members of the public until further notice.

According to Perth Councilor Peter Barrett, the refugees staying in the hotels are all men and have received a weekly subsistence allowance of £7 from the UK government.

“It exposes them to exploitation,” he told the Courier.

Recent takeovers

The hotel closures come after the two were taken over this year.

The 51-bedroom Best Western Queens Hotel has been bought by Compass Hospitality Group after going on the market for £1.25million.

Queens Hotel, Perth. Image: Compass Hospitality.

In February, we announced renovation plans for the historic building.

Seven months later, the Station Hotel was relaunched under the Radisson Blu brand following a £2million refurbishment.

The hall, the restaurant, the lounges and several of its 75 rooms have all been redone.

But in late October, The Station Hotel reportedly canceled reservations due to a government contract.

Refugees accommodated earlier in the year

Lib Dem Cllr Barrett, who is also the equalities manager for the council, said the two hotels were also hosting refugees earlier in the year.

When we spoke to him this week, he was unaware that the Station Hotel was once again hosting new arrivals.

“At one point both hotels were occupied by refugees, but that didn’t last long due to the closure of the Station Hotel in May and renovations,” he said.

“There were up to 50 men placed at the Station Hotel by Mears, the agency contracted by the UK government to provide accommodation.

“I don’t think the accommodation is ideal, but the council have worked hard and positively to try and support those staying here.

“At the national level, there is enormous pressure on accommodation with the combination of Afghan, Syrian and Ukrainian refugees, as well as the British dispersal programme.”

The town hall intervenes to help newcomers

He added that Perth and Kinross Council have “guaranteed quality accommodation” and worked with St Johnstone FC to provide access to sports and leisure facilities.

Councilor Peter Barrett.
Councilor Peter Barrett. Image: DC Thomson.

Cllr Barrett said hotel residents also had access to second-hand bicycles, with the council facilitating bus passes.

The Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Services (PKAVS) also provided clothing support for newcomers.

“They were all men,” Cllr Barrett said of the Station Hotel refugees earlier this year.

“I don’t think there were any families.

“When the two hotels were run by refugees, there were no particular problems.

“There may have been an incident where a football hooligan tried to cause trouble at the station, but it was dealt with quickly and efficiently by the police.

“Other than that, I didn’t think there were any issues and I think a lot of that was down to the positive work that the board did, with partners like PKAVS, to make sure these guys vulnerable were fine.”

Used as “contingency”

In 2019, Mears secured three government contracts to provide accommodation and support to asylum seekers.

It works as a contractor to the Home Office to place service users and support them during their stay.

We will ensure that our service users leave the emergency accommodation as soon as possible.

A spokesman for Mears said: ‘Due to an increase in the number of people seeking asylum and a shortage of suitable accommodation, hotels are being used on an emergency basis by the Home Office in across the UK, including Perth.

“We are working with local authorities and landlords to organize suitable accommodation in the community, but there is currently a shortage.

“We will get our service users out of emergency accommodation as soon as possible.”

Meals provided

The Mears spokesperson added that all hotels offer en suite rooms with TVs and Wi-Fi access, as well as a 24-hour front desk.

The swimming pool at the Queens Hotel. Image: Compass Hospitality.

“Three meals a day are provided to all service users, menus meet NHS Eat Well standards and are nutritionally balanced,” they continued.

“The support provided by the Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Services has been exemplary.

“Working together, we provide a program of regular activities, including with local football teams, the library and the college.”

£5.6m daily bill from taxpayers

A Home Office spokesperson has pointed out that the number of people arriving in the UK in need of accommodation has reached “record levels”, putting the asylum system under incredible pressure.

They added: “The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently over 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels which are costing the UK taxpayer £5.6million a day. .

“Using hotels is a short-term solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find suitable accommodation.”

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[Two Perth hotels shut to house refugees who are given £7 a week]

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