A town centre hotel looks set to be used as accommodation for asylum seekers – with talks being held between councils and the Home Office.

The Waverley Hotel in Whitehaven, which had been family-run for the last 38 years, has now been sold and was handed over to its new owner on Monday.

A meeting was held between the Home Office, Cumbria County Council and Copeland Council on Tuesday, to discuss the possibility of housing asylum seekers in the building.

It would be used to provide accommodation on a temporary basis, in line with statutory duties. It is not yet known which country the asylum seekers would be coming from.

Trudy Harrison, Copeland MP, said: “I have been informed by the Home Office that The Waverley Hotel has been identified to begin accommodating those seeking asylum in our country.

“While the Home Office assures me that they are working to reduce the reliance on using hotels in the long term, I am informed that this accommodation must be provided on a temporary basis to comply with our statutory duties.

“I am further informed that the Home Office is working with Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council to address any concerns that arise regarding the use of the hotel for this purpose.”

Joseph Ghayouba, who represents Whitehaven Central on Copeland Council, said he “absolutely” supported housing asylum seekers in Copeland.

He said: “I think particularly from war-torn areas like Afghanistan and other middle eastern countries where we’ve had some historic involvement. A lot of the Afghan refugees helped our troops when they were out there with translation and other help that saved lives. It’s important that we don’t leave them high and dry.

“Also the same for Ukrainians. People fleeing war, regardless of where you’re from, what language you speak and the colour of your skin, we should be doing all we can to help people who are fleeing war.

“The only concern I would have is making sure that it is habitable for humans and suitable for their needs. There have been stories coming out of Carlisle, with the accommodation and facilities that they have got there, where it’s just not fit for humans.”

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A spokeswoman for Copeland Borough Council said: “Copeland Borough Council has been working with the Home Office after the council was approached about the possibility of asylum seekers being housed at  a private residence whilst their asylum requests are processed.

“The council is currently awaiting a final decision on whether this will go ahead. The council’s staff and partner agencies are ready to help and support any asylum seekers who may be placed in the borough.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are dealing with an unprecedented increase in asylum cases but despite this we continue to ensure that the accommodation provided is safe, secure and leaves no one destitute.

 “The Home Office does not comment on operational arrangements for individual hotels.”

Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute can obtain support, which may include accommodation, while their asylum claims are being assessed.

Accommodation providers, in consultation with local authorities, are responsible for identifying suitable temporary accommodation that can be used for this purpose.

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