ASYLUM seekers have been moved out of a town centre hotel following a pledge by the government to close migrant hotels.

The Waverley Hotel in Whitehaven is one of 50 hotels temporarily accommodating asylum seekers across the UK to be exited as part of the move to return hotels to their proper use by communities.

The Tangier Street building had been housing asylum seekers since September 2022 following a deal between the hotel owners and Serco, which provides accommodation for immigrants while their asylum is processed.

But the government announced plans to start exiting asylum hotels last year as part of wider efforts to tackle illegal migration.   

The Home Office has said that it is working closely with accommodation providers and local authorities to manage the exit process in a way which ‘limits the impact on partners and service users’.

The Whitehaven News has been told that asylum seekers who were being housed in The Waverley Hotel have been dispersed to areas around Lancashire and Cumbria.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison said: “This is good news for Whitehaven’s visitor sector.

“Now I hope that the Waverley’s current owners will work with Cumberland Council and Cumbria Tourism, along with the Harbour Commissioners and local businesses to bring forward the high quality accommodation offer more in keeping with the town’s potential and ambitions.”

Joseph Ghayouba, who represents Bransty on Cumberland Council, said: "This is typical of a government that fails at everything it turns its hand to.

“Rather than getting to grips with the backlog and opening up safe and legal routes for those fleeing war and persecution, they have opted to waste time and money by pursuing a failed Rwanda policy and now they think that by simply moving the asylum seekers away from the Waverley it will make the problem go away.

“Voters and the general public can see through right through it."

A spokesperson for West Cumbria Refugee Support Network said: “For the last 15 months the Waverley Hotel in Whitehaven has housed people seeking asylum in the UK.

“West Cumbria Refugee Support Network volunteers have reached out to support them, signposted them to volunteering opportunities, and helped them to improve their English and integrate socially at the Language Cafe and the Warm Hub.

“It has been wonderful to meet people from so many different countries, many of them becoming good friends. Along with other charities, we have provided clothes, suitcases, shoes and football sessions.

“They in turn have offered friendship and volunteered to clean up churches, planted thousands of bluebells that will give us pleasure when they have long gone, worked on Walkmill Wood and volunteered on projects run by the Groundwork Trust and Works4U.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are making significant progress with moving asylum seekers out of hotels, which cost UK taxpayers £8.2million a day.

“We have already exited the first 50 and we will exit more in the coming months.”

Josh MacAlister, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Whitehaven and Workington, said:  “The Waverley Hotel should never have been used to house people seeking asylum. It’s a terrible use of public funds and bad for everyone concerned.

“The hotel was only ever used because of the government’s chaotic mismanagement of the asylum system. It takes some brass neck that they now want gratitude, especially when there are still nearly 100,000 asylum applications to be processed. Labour will clear the backlog with extra caseworks and extra courts.”

Andrew Johnson, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Whitehaven and Workington, said: "I have long called for an end to the use of hotels to house asylum seekers, given the exorbitant costs to the taxpayer and the loss of accommodation to support tourism and local businesses.

"It is clearly positive news that The Waverley Hotel is no longer being used for that purpose, and I would now like to see it refurbished and brought back into use as a hotel to help support Whitehaven's tourist economy.

"However, assurances now need to be urgently given by the council that none of the people accommodated there have been provided with housing ahead of local people in need and waiting for a new home.

"Overall, I strongly support the need to continue to crack down on illegal migration and smashing the criminal gangs driving it."