This week an iconic hotel in Lanarkshire strongly denied repeated rumors that it was planning to house immigrants for the Home Office.
Reports had suggested the three-star Bothwell Bridge Hotel was in talks with private accommodation provider Mears Group to provide temporary emergency accommodation for people seeking asylum.
People were also led to believe that the hotel was being sold to the group.
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Following several social media posts, members of the local community have speculated in recent days that an agreement was in place between the historic hotel and the Home Office to help house displaced migrants from the Middle East.
However, a Bothwell Bridge spokesman categorically denied that it was in talks to provide such accommodation.
They also claimed it was just ‘rumors’ and said news suggesting the property had been sold was strictly ‘false’.
The spokesperson told Lanarkshire Live: “That’s just not true.
“We are aware of the rumors circulating and would like to reassure the public that the hotel has not been sold and there are no plans to turn the hotel into refugee accommodation.
“We are operating as usual.”
Hotel manager Armando Cirignaco previously told us that no discussions had taken place with the Mears Group to accommodate refugees, nor had they approached the hotel to help assist. .
Rumors are understood to have swirled after a total of 60 refugees who crossed the Channel by boat from Somalia were placed at the Bruce Hotel in East Kilbride earlier this year, despite serious concerns from the council local and politicians.
A Mears Group spokesman confirmed this week they had ’emergency accommodation’ in place in South Lanarkshire, but made no mention of the Bothwell Bridge Hotel.
He told us: “Due to the increase in the number of asylum seekers, hotels are being used as emergency accommodation by the Home Office across the UK, including in Scotland.
“We are working very closely and positively with local authorities and with other partners including health and wellbeing teams and NGOs to provide support to our hotel service users.
“For safeguard reasons, we do not normally identify specific accommodation sites, although we can confirm that we are using emergency accommodation in the South Lanarkshire area.”
The Mears Group says it does not ‘buy’ or ‘operate’ hotels as has been suggested, but that its role is to place service users in accommodation and support them during their stay , on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior.
A social media post this week led to hundreds of people commenting on the situation – many of whom were against the idea of asylum seekers settling in the village.
As well as local unease, politicians have also expressed concern that immigrants, who are fleeing conflict and poverty from war-torn countries in search of a better life in the UK, are being accommodated in a hotel .
Commenting, Angela Crawley, MP for Lanark and Hamilton East, told us: “It is unacceptable to use temporary accommodation to house asylum seekers because hotels do not meet their welfare needs.
“I will be liaising with the Home Office and South Lanarkshire Council to ensure that all asylum seekers in my constituency have access to suitable accommodation and the services they need.”
A spokesperson for the Home Office told us this week: “We are facing an unprecedented increase in asylum applications, but despite this we continue to ensure that the accommodation provided is safe, secure and leave no one destitute.
“The Home Office does not comment on operational arrangements for individual hotels.”
The Bothwell Bridge Hotel is currently closed Monday to Wednesday and is only open Thursday to Sunday for weddings, dining and corporate events.
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