Park Hall Hotel shuts down with staff told to reapply for their jobs and wedding plans in jeopardy as new owners plan to house asylum seekers
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The hotel closed its doors this morning (Monday, February 7) after serving its final guests breakfast, but plans are already under way to reopen under new ownership.
All weddings planned for the coming months have been cancelled, leaving couples despairing over what will happen to their thousands of pounds in deposits.
After learning of the sudden closure, some couples turned up at the hotel to confront management and demanding refunds.
Police were called to the scene, with video showing a number of officers speaking to couples in the hotel lobby as they sought to calm the tense atmosphere inside.
You can view the footage of police attending Park Hall Hotel in our video player above.
Today, a hotel spokesman confirmed to the Post: "The owners have told us that the hotel is sold and the new company has signed a deal with Serco.
"Understandably, if some guests are not happy they can cancel their event and claim a refund according to the owner."
Staff said they were only made aware of the imminent closure last night (Sunday, February 6) after a text message from management.
They have been told they might be able to reapply for their jobs in the weeks to come, but it is not clear in what capacity they would be employed at the hotel whilst it is occupied by those seeking asylum.
The message, seen by the Post, told staff that the hotel would close today and that its new owners intend to reopen the venue as accommodation for refugees/asylum seekers.
"Yes, it's true that refugees will be living here next weekend," said management.
"We can reapply for our jobs and we have been told that a letter will be sent to us all.
"Thank you for being such an amazing team. I'm so sorry for us all. We sailed Park Hall to the very end. Take care and all the best."
Staff were expected to receive their final pay today.
Serco, which has the Government contract for housing asylum seekers in the North West, told the Post it does not provide comment on individual hotels it is using to accommodate them.
A Serco spokesman said: "This is for the safety and wellbeing of the people in our care given some of the activities of far right groups who have targeted them over the past months."
The Post understands that Serco has agreed a three-month contract with the hotel, but this has not been confirmed by the company or the new hotel owners.
Instead, Serco issued a 'general statement' in response to our Park Hall Hotel enquiry.
Jenni Halliday, Serco’s Contract Director for Asylum Accommodation Services, said: "With the significant increases in the number of people arriving in the UK we have been faced with no alternative but to temporarily accommodate some asylum seekers in hotels.
"These hotels are only used as a last resort but as a provider of accommodation services on behalf of the Home Office we have a responsibility to find accommodation for the asylum seekers that are being placed in our care.
"The Serco team is working extremely hard to move people into dispersed social housing as rapidly as possible."
It is also not clear at this stage whether the hotel would require planning permission from Chorley Council as the new arrangement might constitute a change of use of the premises.
You can read Chorley Council's statement on the plans here.
When asked about plans to house asylum seekers at Park Hall, a Home Office spokesman said: "The use of hotels is only ever a short-term solution and we are working with local authorities to find appropriate long term accommodation across the United Kingdom."
Park Hall Hotel had reportedly fallen into disrepair with the swimming pool roof partially collapsing around 7 months ago. The gym, spa and leisure facilities had remained closed since the incident, with the hotel saying that repair work was ongoing.
Gym members have reported that direct debit payments have continued to be taken from their bank accounts, with some saying their latest payments were taken as recently as Friday (February 4).
A notice on the Best Western website simply says: "The Hotel leisure club facilities are closed until further notice, we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause."
One of the last guests at the hotel left a scathing review on the website after his stay last night (Sunday, February 6).
He said: "Terrible experience. Very short staffed. Pool and spa closed. No draft beer left, Sky Sports been cut off (as advised by a member of staff), no food left in restaurant and then we have had sickness all night.
"The staff found out they had no job after today so you can imagine the terrible atmosphere and service!! It's shutting down after today."
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