Snowonia, North Wales...Conwy politicians say they will keep naming asylum hotel!

The hotel should be named, and the only right-wing extremists to be concerned about are the Islamic hate groups that areactive in the UK

Politicians have brushed off calls to stop naming the Conwy hotel housing asylum seekers amid concerns it could lead to attacks by far-right extremists. The Refugee Council has written to Parliament pointing out that Home Office guidelines prevent the naming of hotels where migrants are staying.

Aberconwy MP Robin Millar and his Senedd counterpart Janet Finch-Saunders were quick to voice concerns when asylum seekers began arriving at the Hilton Garden Inn in Dolgarrog 10 days ago. Both say the hotel’s name was being widely circulated locally before they began demanding answers.

Both are continuing to lobby for the hotel to be closed for asylum seekers as soon as possible. They are also are asking why the UK Government is spending £7m a day of taxpayer money to house migrants and refugees when they say local services in places like Dolgarrog cannot cope.

In the Refugee Council letter, first reported by the Guardian, chief executive Enver Soloman said politicians have every right to raise concerns. But he said they should not be identifying individual migrant hotels to safeguard the people staying there.

So far this year, the anti-racist group Hope Not to Hate has recorded 182 visits from activists to migrant accommodation sites. There have been complaints that asylum seekers and security personnel are being filmed and harassed. Counter-terrorism police have said last month’s firebombing of a migrant center in Dover had an “extreme rightwing motivation”.

Conservative MP Robin Millar said he was just doing his job when speaking out about the issue on behalf of his constituents
Conservative MP Robin Millar said he was just doing his job when speaking out about the issue on behalf of his constituents

Mr. Millar named Dolgarrog on the floor of the House of Commons after spending two days trying to get official confirmation from the Home Office. He said any attempt to keep the hotel’s identity a secret would have been an exercise in futility.

“In this day and age, the location of the hotel was circulating widely on social media within hours of the arrivals,” he said. “It was also reported in a national newspaper the day before I spoke in Parliament.

“More importantly, however, it is my job as the MP to represent constituents in Westminster. I will bring their concerns to the attention of the government and the House of Commons. I am surprised I should have to defend or explain that.

“The question to ask perhaps, is why would the Refugee Council want to stop an MP from bringing attention to this problem? The arrival of asylum seekers on our shores is a reflection of a bigger problem around the world. It is now presenting a real challenge to communities across the whole of the UK – Dolgarrog is just one.”

Ms Finch-Saunders said her inbox continues to be filled with messages from irate and concerned constituents. As well as alarm over the impact on local residents, and perceived injustices over access to local services, the way the issue was handled had left a sour taste, she said.

The Senedd Member contrasted the situation with the housing of 30 Ukrainian families at a Llandudno hotel. Due processes had been followed and the refugees had been welcomed into the community, she said.

Ms Finch-Saunders said she would not be silenced on an issue that was among the most important she had encountered in 28 years as a politician. She had no qualms about identifying the hotel at Adventure Parc Snowdonia.

Janet Finch-Saunders visits Eglwysbach in the Conwy Valley
Janet Finch-Saunders visits Eglwysbach in the Conwy Valley

She said: “I had been approached by many people worried about what was going on there. In a small village of 400-500 people, you didn't need to be a genius to realize what was happening. People saw the coaches arriving.

“There was talk of a protest at one stage but that didn’t happen and since then things have become calmer. In the absence of proper information there’s a danger of scaremongering but at no point was anyone worried far-right activists would start turning up.

“But there is still a lot of anger in the community over the way things were handled. It was all done under cover of darkness. We didn’t know, the police didn’t know and the Welsh Government was never informed. This shouldn’t have been allowed to happen.

“People are also struggling to understand how anyone would consider a village like Dolgarrog would be a suitable location for housing asylum seekers. This particular hotel received millions of pounds from the Welsh Government to be used as a leisure site, not for asylum seekers.”

The lack of adequate services locally has also been a bone of contention for some. When an ambulance was called to the Hilton Garden Inn a day after asylum seekers arrived, it fuelled local resentment among people who are struggling for medical treatment.

The hotel’s four-star facilities have also incensed some people caught in a national housing crisis. According to Ms Finch-Saunders, there are 1,900 people on long-term housing waiting lists in Aberconwy. Among those to contact, her was a woman whose daughter has been housed in a single room for 30 months with her partner and young child.

“People contact me to say their elderly father was left lying on the floor for nine hours while waiting for an ambulance,” said Ms. Finch-Saunders. “I do get it, there is huge local concern about what’s happened.

“I’ll continue pressing for the hotel’s closure to asylum seekers as soon as possible. I’ll also be working to ensure no more people are transferred to the hotel in the meantime.”

Numbers fluctuate at the hotel almost daily as asylum seekers move on, or are transferred in and out. According to the latest reports from Mr. Millar, 87 people are currently there, one up from the original group who arrived 10 days ago. Maximum capacity, he said, is 107, as each asylum seeker is allocated a single room.

The MP said the local community had been "welcoming and hospitable" with many "generous" offers of help. A donation appeal has been launched for the hotel's occupants.




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