Asylum seekers to leave Dunstable hotel after Home Office ends contract with Old Palace Lodge

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The controversial contract ends in June

A year after it closed to the public to house asylum seekers, Dunstable’s Old Palace Lodge could reopen.

The Home Office has announced that it is terminating its contract with the four star hotel as a venue for asylum accommodation and has confirmed that the hotel will cease housing asylum seekers before the end of June this year. The current residents will be moving to other parts of the asylum estate.

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The closure caused huge controversy in the area, with a public meeting called in February 2023. Justifying the move to accept the Home Office contract, the Lodge owners said higher energy bills and rising interest rates had impacted the hotel, in the aftermath of the pandemic. Around 132 asylum seekers have been housed at the hotel.

The Old Palace Lodge hotel. Picture: Tony MargiocchiThe Old Palace Lodge hotel. Picture: Tony Margiocchi
The Old Palace Lodge hotel. Picture: Tony Margiocchi

Commenting on the latest news, South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous, said: “The takeover of hotels by the Home Office has never been the right way to house asylum seekers. The Government is now using former military sites where possible and wants to move to a system where local authorities decide on the most appropriate accommodation in their areas. Hotels are important community assets for local businesses and for local people to celebrate significant life events, and The Old Palace Lodge was a very important venue for the town.

“We have to realise, however, that life has been very hard for hotel owners with lower occupancy after the pandemic as a result of working from home and expensive energy bills. Harpenden had two four-star hotels close recently and, sadly, there are no guarantees that The Old Palace Lodge will reopen as a hotel as it used to be. I have always encouraged those that were able to use the hotel to do so and I will work with the owners to try to ensure as bright a future as possible for The Old Palace Lodge.

"Personally, I have very much missed not being able to use the hotel with its wonderful Tudor garden and I would be delighted to see it reopen to the people of Dunstable again. I know that many local people would like to use it once more as a venue for weddings, parties and wakes.”

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