Villagers have protested against Home Office plans to turn a “plush” four-star hotel into a base for asylum seekers less then three miles from where 270 migrants are already housed.
Local protesters staged a peaceful rally in Standish, near Wigan, Greater Manchester, on Sunday (September 3) but outside elements from both the far-left and far-right reportedly attended.
Police were out in force for the gathering against the decision to move migrants into the Kilhey Court Hotel in the village.
The Grade II-listed wedding venue is expected to become a hostel for asylum seekers from September 9.
Just down the road at a Britannia Hotel 270 “mostly young men” have already been placed for several years.
Elsewhere in the country demonstrations have seen angry clashes between refugee supporting and far-right groups.
Organiser Ince and Scholes independent councillor Maureen O’Bern said she was not blaming the asylum seekers but the situation had become “unmanageable” and said the government had to “stop the boats”.
She said: “It’s the only four-star hotel in Wigan, people have lots of weddings there, I stayed there recently for a couple of nights. And you think you pay a couple of hundred pounds, and you think how much this must be costing (to house asylum seekers)?
“The only way for me is to stop the boats and I cannot understand why they can’t, it surely can’t be beyond our government, and I do hold them responsible, not that Labour would be any better.
“It’s become unmanageable, the only answer now is to stop these boats coming, if all the hotels are filled, what else are they going to do? Are they going to use army bases, people near those bases don’t want that.”
Cllr O’Bern said there was already a waiting list for housing in the area and that many local families were being evicted.
She said: “I’m working in a town where there’s 14,000 people on the waiting list and families are being evicted because terraced houses are being sold and turned into houses of multiple occupancy, HMOs.
“Families are ending up in Travelodges and hostels, and I’m not blaming asylum seekers, they’ve not chosen to be put up in Kilhey Court Hotel. I’ve worked with asylum seekers in the past, I’ve nothing against them personally, I’ve run English conversation lessons.”
Cllr O’Bern condemned those from the far right attending Sunday’s rally saying “I’m not associated with that group, and I don’t want them to attend any future protests”.
Both the local council and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy have written to the Home Office, calling for it to ditch the plan to use Kilhey Court Hotel, saying it has no amenities and little public transport nearby.