Furious locals stage protest outside luxury three-star Chichester Park Hotel after it closed itself down to house migrants in move that saw hundreds of events cancelled – including demonstrator’s 26th birthday party
- A counter protest was also near to the hotel held by Stand Up to Racism
Furious locals gathered outside a three-star hotel which is set to close in order to house asylum seekers in a move that will cancel hundreds of events as a result, including one woman’s 26th birthday party.
Dozens of residents holding placards arrived at Chichester Park Hotel, in Chichester, West Sussex, this afternoon claiming they had ‘no say’ in the decision.
Many of those at the protest said celebratory events had been cancelled after the sudden announcement that the hotel, which is said to be a ‘big part of the community’, will close tomorrow.
A counter-protest also took place outside the hotel, which saw group chanting support for the arrival of potential refugees in the area.
Police attended to ensure both protests remained peaceful throughout the two hour demonstration, which saw the groups stand on opposite sides of the busy road next to the hotel.
Dozens of residents holding placards arrived at Chichester Park Hotel, in Chichester, West Sussex, this afternoon claiming they had ‘no say’ in the decision
Many of those at the protest said celebratory events had been cancelled after the sudden announcement that the hotel, which is said to be a ‘big part of the community’
It comes as the Home Office said small-boat migrants must be booked into hotels of at least three-star quality with cost of housing rising to £8 million a day.
Dee Parker, 67, was one of the first to arrive and brought a banner to protest against the plans to house migrants there.
The grandmother of eight said: ‘Most people in Chichester are fed up with it all being done underhand – we don’t have a say in it. We are angry and upset and I’m fed up.
‘I’ve come here ever since I was a kid, it was always here, it’s a part of Chichester.’
Chloe Bridger believes her 26th birthday party in January at the hotel has been cancelled but she hasn’t been informed.
‘I have my party here every year,’ the carer said. ‘It’s home from home, it’s like a family because all the staff know us and and are really friendly with us.
‘I had my last birthday here, my 21st and my wedding reception. To not be told your event’s been cancelled – it’s awful.’
Her father in law, Gareth, was set to have a joint celebration alongside her birthday to celebrate he and his wife’s 27th anniversary.
The 51 year old, who is also a carer, said: ‘Every function out family has had has been in here.
A counter-protest also took place outside the hotel, which saw group chanting support for the arrival of potential refugees in the area
The hotel is set to close tomorrow on September 25
Locals were seen holding different placards that read ‘house our homeless first’ and ‘protect our children’
‘It has sentimental value. They must have known this was coming and in the pipeline so why were they taking bookings.’
Grace, who did not wish to give her surname, is a swim teacher that used to work in the hotel which has a big swimming pool inside.
‘More children are going to lose out on learning a vital life skill,’ she said. ‘It’s another small business that has been shut down.
‘There aren’t enough spaces in other local swim schools now for all the children that won’t be able to use this one now. It makes no sense.’
Sarah Bayley, who is a receptionist at a different hotel, had her Christmas do cancelled.
Shayne Miller, 54, got married at the hotel years ago and also believes it’s a ‘big part of the local community’.
George Hibberd, who arrived with a sign that said ‘Refugees are welcome here’ with a heart drawn on, was part of the counter-protest group
The 30 year old said: ‘It’s not refugees fault that they’re in the situation they’re in. We are here to show solidarity with them.’
Police attended to ensure both protests remained peaceful throughout the two hour demonstration
Stand Up to Racism organised a counter protest on the opposite side of the road
Mr Hibberd, who used to be an easyJet pilot before packing it in to work as a campaigner at Just Stop Oil, added: ‘This goes way beyond frustration about wedding events being cancelled.’
Jane Allen was also part of the group gathering to show support for any potential refugees housed in the hotel, but admitted the hotel had sentimental value for locals.
The 74 year old grandmother said she had stopped at the venue for a cup of tea after a cremation service for her mother.
‘It does serve the community well,’ she said. ‘I’m not necessarily saying ‘fill it up with refugees’ – it’s not as clear cut as that. But there’s no need for hatred.’
The group welcoming refugees left the protest site first, before the other group dispersed shortly afterwards.
Opposition to the government plans are strong as a petition to stop the hotel being turned into a ‘migrant hostel’ has been signed over 4,500 times.
Another protest is planned to take place on the morning of September 30.
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The number of people arriving in small boats is down compared with last year but we must go further to stop the boats in the first place.
‘That is why we are determined, through the Illegal Migration Act, to ensure that anyone arriving in the UK illegally is detained and swiftly removed to their country of origin or a safe third country.
‘We are also working hard to reduce the unacceptable use of hotels by moving asylum seekers into alternative, cheaper accommodation, doubling them up in hotel rooms, and clearing the legacy backlog.’
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