Hotels offer to step in to help those left high and dry by shock Kilhey Court asylum-seeker plan as opposition grows

The bombshell news about the closure of Wigan's prestigious Kilhey Court hotel for conversion to house asylum-seekers has left many people with bookings high and dry.
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As exclusively revealed yesterday (Friday), Wigan’s grandest hotel is axing staff and will be converted to accommodate asylum-seekers within weeks.

Kilhey Court at Worthington in Standish is to welcome its new residents as soon as September 9 and stop receiving guests, whether for overnight stays, gym and spa use, meals or functions from then on.

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Macdonald Kilhey Court, in Standish (file picture)Macdonald Kilhey Court, in Standish (file picture)
Macdonald Kilhey Court, in Standish (file picture)
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Now a number of nearby hotels have offered to step in to fill the void after long-standing wedding arrangements and planned Christmas parties were scuppered by the sudden development.

And in a separate move, a number of campaigns are also being launched to try and reverse the decision to use Kilhey Court as accommodation for asylum-seekers.

Macdonald Hotels, the owner of Kilhey Court, has confirmed that it is closing the complete operation “temporarily” and handing its running to SERCO – which is contracted by the Government to provide accommodation for asylum-seekers – citing post-pandemic and cost-of-living crisis challenges for the commercial decision.

The community group Standish Voice said on its Facebook page today (Saturday): "The prestigious hotel has been part of Standish life for decades and is a historic building set in a beautiful part of the village, and we believe if this decision is not reversed the hotel will cease to exist in a short period of time.

Macdonald Kilhey Court Hotel (file picture)Macdonald Kilhey Court Hotel (file picture)
Macdonald Kilhey Court Hotel (file picture)
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"Standish is already hosting asylum seekers in Standish’s Britannia Hotel and may residents have been generous in showing asylum seekers and refugees hospitality in our community. Adding another hotel to this in a single village is not viable or fair when this is a national situation.

"Standish Voice has written to Macdonald Hotels to protest about its plans – due to come into effect in a few weeks’ time – and to the Home Office to ask that it intervenes to block the proposal."

A separate petition calling on the plan to be scrapped has also been launched by Standish resident and former Wigan councillor Gareth Fairhurst.

He has also got paper copies of the petition and intends to go door-to-door knocking to get signatures.

Mr Fairhurst said: “Residents in Standish are not racists but have genuine concerns including for the economic migrants that will be housed here as they will not have a support network. I will take this to number 10 if I have to.”

Alternative arrangements are now trying to be sorted with any people or groups who have bookings at the venue after the handover date. That could well include trying to move long-planned weddings to other locations at short notice.

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Among the hotels offering to step in to help those affected by the Kilhey Court closure is the Holland Hall Hotel, Up Holland.

Owner Bill Kenyon said: "We do not want to get involved with the politics behind the decision made by Kilhey Court, but the upset caused to couples who have spent months and possibly years planning their big day should not be underestimated - we have seen it at first hand before.

"As we have done before when local hotels have cancelled wedding receptions in similar circumstances, we will do our utmost to accommodate couples and families who have been affected, and where possible, if they get in touch with us, we will endeavour to match the price and duplicate the arrangements made for their reception and any other requirements they had booked."

Other hotels which have kindly offered to help those affected are Shaw Hill Golf & Spa Hotel in Chorley, and Heskin Hall, also in Chorley.