Villagers claim their sleepy idyll will be overrun with asylum seekers when a luxury four-star hotel becomes the second migrant holding centre in their local area next week – and have vowed to march in defiance to stop it happening.
Villagers of Standish, Wigan have protested heavily against the Home Office’s acquisition of the plush luxury Kilhey Court court complex becoming outfitted for refugees fearing the small village will not be able to cope with the influx of ‘young men’.
Standish, which has a population of just under 13,000, already has one asylum seeker centre at a Britannia hotel site just 2.6miles from Kilhey Court.
Locals have reported that the 270-some inhabitants of the Britannia have caused trouble in the past with petty demeanors ranging from loitering to following women around the village while ‘grabbing their genitals.’
Wigan Council has also protested the Home Office’s decision to acquire the hotel with leader Councillor David Molyneaux MBE stating that the ‘particular hotel is not suitable, due to its location and limited local amenities.’
The MacDonald Kilhey Court court complex will become outfitted for refugees next week
Standish already has one asylum seeker centre at a Britannia hotel site
The new site will operate just 2.6miles from the existing Britannia hotel site
The luxury hotel will become the second site for asylum seekers in the village
The Victorian country house hotel is a wedding venue, has a swimming pool, spa and fine dining
It is set in ten acres of land which the new residents will be free to walk around in
In protest at the decision by hotel group MacDonald to allow Kilhey Court site to be outfitted into a holding centre, defiant villagers have planned a protest march for September 3.
The futile show of resistance by Standish locals comes months after similar direct action by townsfolk of Llanelli, South Wales who staged a week long protest outside the four-star Stradey Park Hotel and successfully stopped renovation works being started.
However there seems little hope that Standish locals will see a similar reprieve with the chain having already agreed that the hotel will be handed over to Serco next week.
The Victorian country house hotel is a wedding venue, has a swimming pool, spa and fine dining.
It is set in ten acres of land and overlooks local beauty spot Worthington Lakes.
It is thought some staff have been let go and weddings, anniversaries and celebrations have been cancelled because of the imminent migrant arrivals.
Set against the cost of living crisis, many villagers have expressed their resignations that a valuable community asset is being taken from the area and questioned how their small settlement will cope.
Villagers have expressed their resignations that a valuable community asset is being taken from the area
Father-of-two Eric Lowe (pictured) beIieves the hotel is ‘the wrong place to house migrants.
Speaking to MailOnline, father-of-two Eric Lowe, 82, said: ‘It’s the wrong place to house migrants.
‘There’s nothing for them to do here and there’s very few amenities.
‘It is very isolated and very few buses.
‘They’ll be bored. I don’t think it’s good for anyone to gave it here.
‘I’ve had to cancel my wedding anniversary there in a few months.
‘It’s a lovely hotel, really luxurious with a swimming pool and spa.
The retired crane driver, who has worked in Kenya and South Africa, said: ‘I’ve spoken to some of the migrants who are at another hotel nearby.
‘It’s just odd to put migrants there.’
Retired machinist Jenny Makinson, 79, believes that adding a flurry of men who may be ‘damaged’ spells trouble for the cosy community, he said: ‘I’m really worried about them coming here.
‘I don’t feel safe with thought of them being here.
‘It would be alright if these were women and child refugees but it’s unlikely.
‘There were concerns there about them making comments to the kids going to school and a young mum pushing a pram was really scared when they approached her and starting making comments about her.’
‘Young women go jogging up near the hotel as it’s stunning around the lake – it’s out only beauty spot.
‘But how safe are they going to be. These men might have gone through terrible things and be damaged.’
Locals fear that the village will soon be overrun by ‘bored young men’
Barry Gummerson has said that the migrants may become ‘bored’ and ’cause trouble’
The hotel will become an asylum seeker centre from next week despite objections
Former accountant Barry Gummerson, 85, said: ‘Like most people in the village, I’m not happy about them being here.
‘It just seems a very strange place to put them.
‘I don’t think there’s gonna be anything for them to do round the hotel.
‘They’re gonna be bored and then they could cause trouble.
‘People are up in arms about it and I think there is going to be a protest about it.
‘No-one really wants them here.’
Pensioner Janette Groves, 71, agreed saying: ‘I’m really worried about them coming here.
‘I don’t feel safe and it’s the wrong place to put them.
‘A small village is not the place for asylum seekers and we weren’t consulted about it at all.
‘It came as a massive shock.’
Just two miles away, the Britannia Hotel is eight years into a project that has seen them house some 270 migrants
In the eight years that the asylum seekers have lived in the hotel, locals have reported some problems with integration
Locals say that although they have got used to the migrants living in the hotel they do not want more
Just two miles away, the Britannia Hotel is eight years into a project that has seen them house some 270 migrants.
In that time, neighbours have complained of some of them following women and making crude sexual gestures or harassing schoolgirls.
Retired cashier Enid Gibney, 73, said: ‘Having two hotels full of them is just too much.
‘We have got used to them in the Britannia but to have them in the Kilhey is just a bit crazy.
‘It’s totally the wrong place and we’re just a village.
“People are fed up and feel enough is enough.’
Another residents, who did not want to be named, said: ‘There’s just too many of them for the size of the place.
‘They have made comments to schoolgirls and the police have been involved.
‘It’s diabolical they are putting more migrants here.
‘A lot of women don’t feel safe at night and won’t go out.’
Former post office mistress Christine Keen, 76, who lives near the Britannia, said: ‘I have been followed by one and another said he wanted to come and live with me.
‘It was very off-putting.
‘One did grab his genitals once when I walked past so I told the police and he was taken away.
‘A know a cleaner who works there and one tried to kiss her but he got removed soon after that.
‘There’s a protest against the second hotel as people feel it’s too much.
‘Most of them are fine but you get the odd bad egg.’
Mother-of-two Dawn Lambert, 55, said: ‘They don’t bother me but I have a big dog and I think they are scared of Dennis.
‘We’ve had no trouble off them however there are always police and ambulance arriving there so we know things go on.’
Locals have questioned why they have to have two asylum centres in their village
A spokesperson for Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, said: ‘Hospitality businesses continue to face well-publicised challenges caused by the pandemic and cost of living crisis and, as a result, we have taken the decision to temporarily close our Kilhey Court Hotel and Spa to the public on September 9th.
‘The building will then be fully handed over to Serco, which provides much-needed housing and support for asylum seekers in communities across the UK.
‘This has been a carefully planned decision and we will continue to liaise with our team and guests over the coming weeks.’
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The Home Office has a statutory obligation to provide accommodation for asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute while we consider their claim.
‘The significant increase in illegal, unnecessary and dangerous Channel crossings has put our asylum system under incredible strain and made it necessary to continue to use hotels to accommodate some asylum seekers.
‘This is why we will be using alternative accommodation options, such as barges, which are more manageable for communities, as our European neighbours are doing. ‘
GET FREE G
FREE 100 D
HOW TO GET
FREE PSN C
FREE PSN C
GET FREE P