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MP fumes as Peterborough hotel set to house asylum seekers

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Comedian Ernie Wise has been among its distinguished patrons but the 102 ensuite bedrooms at the 3-star Great Northern Hotel, Peterborough, looks likely be snapped up en bloc for asylum seekers.

And Peterborough MP Paul Bristow is livid.

He took to social media today to lambast the decision to allow the hotel, near the rail station, to be added to the tally of those nationwide whose owners have signed contracts with Serco to take in asylum seekers.

“Accommodating claimants shouldn’t invoke marble bathrooms,” says Mr Bristow.

“These individuals are also at high risk of criminal exploitation, which is impossible to monitor in this central location.”

He said: “Peterborough has a good track record of welcoming asylum seekers – those from Ukraine, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“We already have more than the national average here and organisations like PARCA do a super job.”

But last night he says he was told that the Great Northern could be used to host asylum seekers “who have travelled here illegally on small boats.

102 ensuite bedrooms at the 3-star Great Northern Hotel, Peterborough, looks likely be snapped up en bloc for asylum seekers.

“This is a historic, city-centre hotel that should be driving force in Peterborough’s economy. It’s the wrong choice.”

Mr Bristow said: “I oppose this decision and will do everything I can to do ensure the Great Northern is back to being a normal hotel as soon as possible.”

Responding to comments on his Facebook page, the MP added: “It’s not racist to think that Peterborough do brilliantly accommodating asylum seekers already.

“And we have well over the national average.”

But allowing “one of our flagship hotels” to be used in this way “is not appropriate” he said.

He added that “support services are already struggling” and emphasised that “this is not about race”.

Peterborough City Council was informed earlier today by the Home Office of the contract awarded to the Great Northern; first asylum seekers could arrive over the weekend.

The city council is implementing enforcement action in a bid to halt the change of use.

The council says it has already offered refuge to more than 300 asylum seekers and that its resources are stretched to the limit.

They also fear that the proximity to the rail stations poses “risks to strategic infrastructure of our city, and the UK.

Peterborough City Railway Station,
City, Peterborough
Picture by Terry Harris.

“The Great Northern – a railway hotel – is sited at one of the country’s major rail interchanges so any issues of heightened tension or threats in the area could disrupt a major communication route for both people and freight.”

The Great Northern opened on April 1, 1852, and in the beginning, the Great Northern Railway (GNR) company owned it but allowed its management to rent the hotel and employ the staff.

In 1857, prestigious American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne stayed at the hotel.

He described it as ‘wretched and uncomfortable’, which reflected the standards of the time.

After a number of disputes over the extension of the lease, the GNR took over the management by the 1860s.

The hotel was closed to the public throughout the last war and was occupied by staff from the GNR’s King’s Cross office.

The two main bedroom wings were thought to be reserved for VIPs that were forced to stay during the blitz in London.

Re-opening in November 1949 after extensive repairs, the hotel gained popularity due to its close proximity to the railway station.

In the 1950s, it was extremely popular as a wedding reception. Comedian Ernie Wise was among those who celebrated at the hotel.

In 2009, it was acquired by its current owner.

 

 

 

 

 

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