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End Boat Migrants: Dozens of protesters occupy Llanelli hotel planned for asylum seekers

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Motorcycle riders and people on foot, including someone dressed as a traffic cone, gathered at Llanelli’s Stradey Park Hotel, where the Home Office plans to accommodate up to 240 asylum seekers. Videos on social media showed many people in the hotel’s main parking lot and near the entrance steps after a protest motorcade in town on October 1.

In one video, a man expressed amazement and humor, commenting on the motorcyclists and mentioning issues with the hotel’s fencing.

Someone else suggested that the protesters’ actions would only be considered trespass if the hotel owners or their representatives asked them to leave. It’s unclear how long they stayed on the property.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers were present at the scene, and they later extinguished a fire on a ground floor stairwell of the hotel. Firefighters arrived afterward, checked the area, and left two hours later.

In a video posted on September 30 to promote the motorcade for the following day, a man mentioned there would be a costume competition, as well as the sale of cupcakes, fridge magnets, Welsh flags, and bucket hats.

In a video recorded during the protest, a man was heard saying that those participating were standing up for their beliefs and expressing opposition to what they saw as illegal immigration.

Some of the protesters concealed their faces, while others wore costumes. This resulted in an unusual sight, with a small group, including someone dressed as a traffic cone and another as a daffodil, forming a conga line in front of the hotel entrance.

This wasn’t the first time the hotel’s property had been entered without permission. On the evening of August 15, some protesters gained access and, according to the police, behaved in a way that was considered intimidating. Police noted a troubling increase in the behavior of some protesters and implemented an order allowing officers to instruct people to remove balaclavas or similar face-covering clothing.

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In August, Llanelli MP Dame Nia Griffith expressed concern, stating that the “recent disturbances” had been frightening for residents. She acknowledged the right to peaceful protest but emphasized that such lawlessness did not serve the cause well, tarnished Llanelli’s reputation, and posed challenges for local residents.

In August, the Home Office acknowledged the strong concerns of the local community regarding the use of the Stradey Park Hotel to accommodate asylum seekers. They mentioned that they were working closely with local partners to develop a careful plan for a phased approach to ensure the safety of both hotel residents and the local population. The Home Office emphasized its legal obligation to support asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute. Clearsprings Ready Homes Ltd, their agents, stated that the hotel would not house asylum seekers until it was confirmed as safe.

The proposal to use the four-star spa hotel for this purpose was initially revealed in May, with an expected arrival of asylum seekers in early July. Protests ensued, and legal efforts by Carmarthenshire Council to halt the plans were unsuccessful. As of now, no asylum seekers have arrived, but the hotel has closed, resulting in the loss of nearly 100 jobs before it was effectively taken over by Clearsprings Ready Homes.

Local residents in the Furnace area have expressed mixed feelings about the use of the hotel, with concerns about the community’s size to accommodate a large number of asylum seekers, though some have shown empathy for the asylum seekers’ plight. While most protests have been peaceful, there were 21 arrests reported in August. Some local businesses clarified that they were not involved in the site or assisting those who were.

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Regarding the occupation of the hotel grounds on October 1, the Home Office declined to comment on specific accommodation sites but mentioned efforts to reduce the use of hotels for asylum seekers by transitioning them to alternative, more cost-effective accommodations.

The Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue service responded to a fire at the hotel on October 1, which had already been extinguished by the police. A fire investigation was scheduled for October 2.

Protesters were present outside the hotel on October 2 but were unwilling to comment, except for one individual who described the crowd as “lovely.” He mentioned not knowing where the motorcyclists from the previous day came from and claimed that someone had opened a gate, allowing them to enter, and that they had parked and relaxed for a while.

Dyfed-Powys Police did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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