Wedding couples shocked after Dunstable hotel’s sudden closure to house asylum seekers

The Old Palace Lodge has cited covid and a massive increase in energy bills as the reasons behind its decisionThe Old Palace Lodge has cited covid and a massive increase in energy bills as the reasons behind its decision
The Old Palace Lodge has cited covid and a massive increase in energy bills as the reasons behind its decision
Hotel blames impact of Covid and cost of living

An iconic Dunstable hotel struggling to recover after the pandemic has closed its doors after taking a Government contract to house asylum seekers.

The wedding plans of dozens of couples were thrown into disarray after they received calls from the Old Palace Lodge on Sunday saying the hotel was closing with immediate effect.

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And South Bedfordshire MP Andrew Selous has said he was “extremely upset” about the closure.

On social media one man said: “We have heard this morning that the palace lodge in Dunstable where we are due to get married at in August is shutting for a year due to a government contract. And so our planned wedding is cancelled. We are so upset as everything was arranged.”

Another said: “We got phone call this morning ours is in June all paid for guest where staying at hotel so angry with them cause surly they would off known this we booked ours over 2 years ago what a joke off a place they will never recover from this.”

A woman added: “We received a phone call this morning from Paul and we are absolutely gutted that our bubble has been burst, so angry with it all as our wedding was booked for July, back to the drawing board for us.”

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In a statement, the Church Street hotel said: “The Old Palace Lodge did not fully recover from the negative impact of COVID, whilst the added pressure of the huge unforeseen rise of energy costs, increasing the hotel bills five fold and with their current financial commitments the owners have found it impossible to carry on; to preserve the hotel for the future they have decided to work for Central Government.

“They appreciate the devastating effect this will have on the local community however in the current financial climate they had no option but to seek this alternative which hopefully will be short lived but necessary to secure the survival of this much loved business.”

Mr Selous said he had spoken to the hotel owners after being informed by the Home Office about the plans. He said: “Having spoken to them at length about this issue, I do understand that Covid was a very difficult time for them and that even with a significant government energy rebate, their energy bills are enormous.”

He added he “will continue to press the Government to get an urgent solution to the small boats issue.”

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A spokesman for Central Bedfordshire Council said: “We were first informed about Old Palace Lodge late last year. Then on Friday, January 20 we were told the Home Office was going to start housing asylum seekers there immediately. The Home Office manages the numbers and site.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain.

“The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently more than 45,500 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6 million a day.

“We engage with local authorities as early as possible whenever sites are used for asylum accommodation and work to ensure arrangements are safe for hotel residents and local people.”

Has your wedding or special event been impacted by the closure? Contact us at [email protected]