Mercure Bolton Georgian House earmarked for asylum seekers

A long-established hotel in Bolton has put itself forward to house asylum seekers – plans which Town Hall chiefs are fiercely opposing.

Bolton Council is calling on the Home Office to reject the proposal to house refugees or asylum seekers saying the town’s infrastructure cannot cope.

The Mercure Bolton Georgian House Hotel on Manchester Road contacted the Home Office directly to offer the facility as temporary housing for refugees or those seeking asylum.

The council says it was not involved in the approach and the authority is now in the early stages of formally objecting to the plans.

Discussions are ongoing and the council is raising concerns about the suitability of the hotel.

Council chiefs say that the site is “isolated, a long distance from shops and other amenities, and close to a busy road” and add that ‘there is also considerable strain on school and GP places in the neighbouring area’, which would make it hard for asylum seekers or refugees to access the vital services they need.

The council says it is also concerned about economic impact on the town as the hotel is known for hosting conferences, wedding receptions and other functions.

The local authority says the town has a proud history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to the town and has actively participated in a number of national schemes.

The borough currently hosts more than 800 asylum seekers, placed in the borough via the government’s dispersal programme.

Bolton has consistently hosted more asylum seekers than almost any other borough in England, with numbers frequently above 1,000 – the council is calling on the government to get other towns to play their part.

By contrast, the entire South West region of England houses just 1,300 asylum seekers combined.

Bolton Council Leader Martyn Cox

Bolton Council Leader, Cllr Martyn Cox, said: “The council fully opposes this plan, which is a result of the hotel owners contacting the Home Office directly.

“We are now doing all we can to object in the strongest possible terms, by making the case to government that this proposal is completely wrong for Bolton.

“Public services are already stretched and asking Bolton to support 300 more asylum seekers is simply not fair on anyone.

“We must also consider the significant impact on the local economy of a key flag-ship hotel no longer being available to the public.

“Bolton is a friendly, welcoming place that is always willing to do our fair share and take in those in need.

“But it is time for other areas to step up and do more and we will be pressing the Home Office to find a suitable alternative elsewhere.”

He added: “Bolton does more than many regions of the country – what we cannot have is an indefinite continuation of the existing scheme and what we will fiercely oppose is further strain on our services, community relations on our ability to assimilate people.

“This is about numbers and ability to cope and most of the disadvantaged areas of the town carry the heaviest burden.

“This is not about individuals, it is about our ability to properly manage a system that is overwhelming Bolton and those coming are not going to get the services they need.

“We are making representation both as council and through our MPs to the Home Office. The Home Secretary is aware of it. If the hotel does open to asylum seekers we will continue to make those representations.”

A spokesperson on behalf of the hotel said: “We do not comment on prospective or current hotel bookings.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are dealing with an unprecedented increase in asylum cases, and are working with local authorities to find appropriate long term accommodation and end the unacceptable use of hotels to house asylum seekers. 

“We do not comment on operational arrangements for individual sites used for asylum accommodation.”

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