Fears over 'unsuitable' Edinburgh city centre hotels being used to host asylum seekers

Asylum seekers are being forced to share rooms sparking ‘significant safeguarding concerns’
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Residents and councillors have voiced fears about the welfare of asylum seekers being forced to share rooms in ‘unsuitable' temporary accommodation in Edinburgh.

One councillor has raised ‘significant safeguarding concerns’ with the council about two city hotels being used to host adults, as part of a controversial UK Government policy which has been forced through despite objections from Edinburgh council.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

More than 100 people seeking asylum could be stuck in The Learmonth and the Piries hotels indefinitely, amid concerns about limited amenities. One Edinburgh councillor has warned the move will have a ‘serious negative impact on the welfare of people seeking asylum’.

The Learmonth Hotel is hosting 125 asylum seekersThe Learmonth Hotel is hosting 125 asylum seekers
The Learmonth Hotel is hosting 125 asylum seekers

Housing provider Mears Group, which has been contracted to house 125 asylum seekers at the two-star Learmonth hotel, formerly a Travelodge, said it assesses hotels to make sure they are of an ‘appropriate’ standard.

But it’s claimed the 62-bedroom hotel, which only has private bathrooms in some rooms, has ‘little to no amenity’. Locals supported Afghan families previously hosted at the hotel by donating cooking equipment and other resources. After the families left at the beginning of the summer, residents were told that the hotel would then undergo a refurbishment.

Hal Osler, Liberal Democrat councillor for Inverleith ward, said: “This hotel is very much a temporary space and is unsuitable to house large numbers of individuals. The negative rhetoric surrounding individuals seeking asylum is one thing. To then on the flip side house individuals in a facility with little to no amenity smack in the middle of a residential community having stoked that fear is down right irresponsible.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The lack of respect and empathy for the residents and those seeking asylum just shows how desperate the Tories are and how little they actually care. Everyone deserves to feel safe no matter who they are.”

The local council objected to the hosting of asylum seekers in Edinburgh hotels but the UK Government has ignored the concerns, it is claimed, and pressed ahead under the national roll out of its ‘hotel maximisation policy’.

Thousands of unrelated single male asylum seekers across the country are being told to share hotel rooms in a push by Rishi Sunak’s government to bring down costs and act as a ‘deterrent’ to those arriving in boats.

One local woman, who lives near the Learmonth hotel, told the Evening News: “For a while there were families with kids going to local schools staying in the hotel and they were a part of the community. But now you see lots of single men hanging about outside. It seems like there is nothing for them to do. I feel sorry for them. They are not even allowed to work while they are here. It’s not a way for people to live.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We need to treat people who have been through so much already with more compassion. They deserve to feel safe, not stuck in a make-do hotel for who knows how long. There’s such a shortage of homes in the city. It does put pressure on local services too and people need to know that’s being addressed but it seems like that part hasn’t been thought through either.”

Greens Councillor Ben Parker condemned the policy in a motion to the housing, homelessness and fair work committee on Tuesday, 3 October. He added that it should be ‘condemned in the strongest possible terms’ the actions of politicians and the far-right to create a ‘hostile environment and stoke a culture war against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.’

Council Leader Cammy Day said: “Alongside our Chief Executive Andrew Kerr, I met with Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick and expressed our concerns about the use of this accommodation. We also wrote further letters outlining these concerns. However, the Home Office took the decision to proceed with this accommodation option. We’ll now continue to work with Mears Group and the Home Office to ensure the wellbeing of all residents in and around the venues in question.”

A spokesperson for Mears Group said: “The safety and welfare of our service users is of the utmost importance to Mears and we work closely with local partners, including local authorities and police, in the interests of the safety and wellbeing of our service users and of the local communities where they are accommodated.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.