Anger at plan to house asylum seekers at Yorkshire wedding venue with helipad

'The National' visits wedding venue in picturesque setting given a legal stay of execution from plan to fill it with migrants

Hull Humber View hotel in North Ferriby, East Yorkshire. Nicky Harley / The National
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On a quiet leafy country lane in East Yorkshire, with views across 6.8 hectares of grounds to the Humber Bridge, is a four-star boutique hotel.

With its own helipad, the Hull Humber View in North Ferriby, 14 kilometres from Hull, has been one of the jewels in the crown for hotel chain Best Western.

But a venue that once promised “fairy-tale weddings with a wow factor” — until two weeks ago — now lies empty as it finds itself at the centre of a legal battle as the UK government tries desperately to tackle its asylum-seeker debacle.

“It was the perfect wedding venue, set in beautiful grounds, with riverside views of the majestic Humber Bridge, many couples started their happy ever afters there,” barrister Paul Genney told The National.

“Until last week, when they cancelled them all and we discovered the hotel is now to be used to house asylum seekers. It’s an utterly ridiculous place to choose. It feels like someone in Whitehall has just stuck a pin in a map blind folded and decided to send all these poor migrants more than 300 kilometres away without any proper thought.

“It’s a remote village, miles from anything, there’s nothing there and even the people who live there are bored. What exactly is there for dozens of young migrants, who can’t speak English, to do? Good luck to them trying to make their fortune in North Ferriby. It’s absurd.”

UK tried house migrants in Camelot's rural Cornish castle

It is not the first village to be faced with the challenge, with other Best Western hotels across the country also vying for lucrative government contracts — estimated to be worth about £3 million ($3.4m) a year depending on the size of the venue.

In Lancashire, the Charnock Richard hotel in rural Chorley closed its doors suddenly in February, with staff and visitors given almost no notice of its intention to house asylum seekers.

A similar plan at the Best Western Rockingham Forest Hotel, in Corby, in North Northamptonshire, was scrapped after a backlash from residents, but just 75km away in neighbouring Buckingham the scheme was passed.

The Best Western's Buckingham Hotel axed 75 per cent of its staff to house asylum seekers in its 71 rooms.

The Home Office even approached the owner of Camelot Castle in Tintagel, Cornwall — the legendary home of King Arthur — and offered him £1 million a year to use his £256-a-night rooms to accommodate migrants. He refused.

More than 38,000 migrants have arrived in the UK this year

With officials revealing that more than 38,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel so far this year and with facilities in Kent overcrowded, the government is trying to house them across the country in hotels. It admits the £7m it is currently spending on this is likely to rise.

Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has spent the week visiting asylum facilities, after the government faced growing pressure following the overcrowding at its Manston facility in Kent, which saw more than 4,000 migrants placed at the site, which has a maximum capacity of 1,600.

In a bid to alleviate the problem, asylum seekers were then rehomed but in one instance 40 people were reportedly left at London’s Victoria coach station without accommodation.

Others have been controversially sent to hotels across the country.

However, plans to use the Hull Humber View hotel, which is surrounded by luxury £500,000 four-bed detached homes, have not been welcomed by residents.

A village sign at the approach to North Ferriby in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Nicky Harley / The National

Paula McLaren urged the Home Office to “stop this nonsense”.

“Our immigration situation is a disgrace,” she said.

“My beautiful hotel Humber View has had all events cancelled and is suddenly an immigrant centre with no notice to residents. With homeless people on the streets, how is this justified?”

With just a couple of shops, a pub and a cafe in the small village and a long walk to the city of Hull, other residents have questioned the Home Office’s choice of such a rural location.

“The hotel is very close to a residential area and not much else,” Julie Gibson said.

“It is not suitable, but then where is? Overwhelming numbers are arriving every day, it’s totally out of control.”

MP demands urgent meeting with immigration minister

Local MP David Davis condemned the move and demanded an urgent meeting with the UK’s new immigration minister, Robert Jenrick.

“Extraordinarily, it appears the Home Office intends to move ahead with the scheme and, astonishingly, without any notification to local MPs. This is frankly unacceptable and wholly inappropriate behaviour,” he said.

“The hotel is in entirely the wrong location and lacking appropriate amenities to support migrants.”

Hull Humber View hotel in North Ferriby, in East Yorkshire. Nicky Harley / The National

When it was informed that asylum seekers were to be housed at the hotel as early as this week without warning, East Riding Council took the matter to London’s High Court to seek an injunction.

“I have been contacted by several constituents concerned about the proposals,” Mr Davis said.

“East Riding Council are doing exactly the right thing launching legal action to prevent the Humber View hotel being used as asylum accommodation.

“I will be urgently raising this with the immigration minister.”

After castle plans were rejected, is the Ritz in London next?

The legal action has led to a short stay of execution as the Home Office awaits a hearing on November 7 to see if it is successful.

The injunction also prevents Best Western from allowing asylum seekers in its other two hotels in the county, in Beverley and Driffield.

Earlier this year the Home Office converted former student accommodation, the University of Hull's Thwaite Hall in neighbouring Cottingham, into an asylum centre to house 200 — it is also in Mr Davis’s constituency.

“Increasingly elaborate and expensive solutions for housing migrants are not the answer,” he told the Daily Mail.

“Instead, we must work to deter dangerous, costly and illegal immigration through proper and lasting reform.”

Barrister Paul Genney questions the Home Office's decision to house migrants in a hotel in North Ferriby. Nicky Harley / The National

As the injunction papers nailed to the front porch of the Hull Humber View hotel flutter in the breeze, Mr Genney chuckles at the absurdity of the situation.

“Whitehall needs to get a grip,” he said.

“There are no jobs or any prospects for anyone wanting to better themselves in North Ferriby. They’ll spend their £8 a week on just a bus fare to get out of there to Hull. They need support. This has not been thought through in the slightest.

“A few weeks ago they wanted to put these people into King Arthur’s rural castle. North Ferriby is pretty similar — but without a castle.

“I mean, seriously, what’s next, The Ritz?”

Updated: November 04, 2022, 10:27 AM
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