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Westminster City Council homing Families in three and four star Hotels

The housing crises is not only putting pressure on social and private sector landlords, but also local councils, especially in London where the amount of those looking for houses is more than anywhere else throughout the UK. Furthermore, the increase in rent prices and the cap on housing benefits has led to many struggling to pay their rent, meaning more landlords are having to rely on their landlord insurance or choose to evict their tenants.

Therefore it has come to a shock to many that the BBC has reported that the Westminster City Council is housing families who have had to move out of their homes in three or five star hotels, which is costing the tax payer a small fortune. The Council is currently paying around twelve thousand pounds per month in order to house a family in a hotel in the expensive Westminster area, and they claim that they had no other choice due to the lack of housing throughout the country’s capital.

The BBC report goes on to say that even though the Council claims that they are trying to re-house the families living in hotels, many have already been there for months, despite that fact that the law states that families are not allowed to stay in bed and breakfast accommodations for over six weeks. Furthermore, the report suggests that the government even knew that the council was breaking the law, yet failed to do anything to stop them.

One family the report focusses on is the Osmans, all ten of which have been living in the Jury Inn hotel in the Chelsea area since November last year. They became homeless after their housing benefits were capped and they could no longer afford to pay the rent on their home. However, it has been revealed that the family used to receive around £700 in housing benefits per week, which the council is now paying per night for the family to stay in the hotel.

Karen Buck, Labour MP has criticised the situation and said: “These families have been losing their homes because of the cuts in housing benefit. Westminster Council cheerleading for those cuts, and now we find they are pouring money into hotels to have to house those families who have lost their homes.” Meanwhile, Conservative Councillor Jonathan Glaz said: “The scale of the problem I think is somewhat unprecedented in so much as we have large numbers of people presenting as homeless and we don’t have immediately opportunity to put them into self-contained accommodation or into social homes immediately.”

New hotel leaves locals unimpressed

Residents and guest house owners have reacted with fury and rage at the news that planning permission has been granted for a budget hotel right in the middle of the historic Dorset town of Christchurch.

Local councillors gave the decision to approve the hotel despite objections that the opening of a sixty-eight-bedroom Travelodge would destroy the character of the beautiful town centre. The area already has three Premier Inns and locals are surprised that planning for another hotel has managed to get council backing. The run-down former Christchurch Health Centre building will now be turned into a Travelodge, with a new entrance and reception area that can be accessed from the shopping precinct.

The Travelodge chain advertises family rooms for as little as £19 per night, and despite being a no frills service they aim to provide every single customer with both a clean and comfortable night. They were originally a roadside firm with hotels sited on the motorway network. However, for the last decade they have been concentrating more on developing new hotels in town and city centres.

Bernice O’Dell is a local businesswoman with a bed and breakfast business in the town that is covered by landlords insurance. She has organised a petition that local people have backed to the hilt. She believes more large hotels will detract from the charm and character of the town and traditional seaside properties that specialise in B&B will go out of business.

Bernice said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous allowing planning for a Travelodge. It looks like a prison, we are getting overtaken by budget hotels and it’s going to take our business away from us. How are we supposed to survive? I just think there’s enough budget accommodation in Christchurch and I also believe a lot of businesses will go under. I’m a Christchurch girl and we don’t want a big Travelodge in the heart of town. It’s just going to change the whole feel of the place. I love Christchurch and it saddens me to think what will happen to the town now.”