Doctors surgeries and schools in our village are full and transport is limited…why did the government put migrants in a hotel here?

JUST across the slow-flowing Thames from Prince William’s home in Windsor, pretty Datchet is an unlikely setting for Britain’s unfolding asylum crisis.

A haven for tourism, its manicured village green is bordered by the 17th Century Manor Hotel, which boasts of its “views over the grounds of Windsor Castle”.

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Lawyer Amit Verma (left), Datchet Parish Council member and property developer Nigel Knighton, outside the luxury Manor hotel which has been taken over to house migrantsCredit: Jon Bond
Just across the slow-flowing River Thames from Prince William's Windsor home, pretty Datchet is an unlikely setting for Britain's unfolding asylum crisis

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Just across the slow-flowing River Thames from Prince William’s Windsor home, pretty Datchet is an unlikely setting for Britain’s unfolding asylum crisisCredit: Jon Bond
Once a social focal point for the village, the mansion's ground floor windows are now blacked out and a sign on the door reads:

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Once a social focal point for the village, the mansion’s ground floor windows are now blacked out and a sign on the door reads: ‘Hotel closed to general public’Credit: Jon Bond

Now the boutique hotel – until recently a luxury wedding venue – has been requisitioned by the government as emergency accommodation for migrants.

And the decision was greeted with dismay by many in this true blue corner of Royal Berkshire.

As I meet worried locals in the town square, the flashing blue lights of bikers announce that Prince William is driving past the hotel in a black Range Rover.

Property developer Nigel Knighton said as the motorcade passed: “The facilities in the village are far from adequate for asylum seekers.

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“But they must feel like they’ve arrived in heaven, living next to the royal family. They have a privileged view.

Pointing to the fake Tudor facade of the hotel, he adds: “People got married there, had a drink in the pub across the road and took pictures by the river.

“Before, it was called the wedding village. But that is gone now and that means other shops and businesses in the village have suffered and are closing too. »

The Manor – and a string of other top hotels across the country – have been block-booked by the Home Office as Britain’s asylum system threatens to disintegrate.

The locals are furious

There is a backlog of over 120,000 asylum seekers with pending claims, with an average case taking 480 days to process.

This means thousands of migrants are living in hotels, with taxpayers collecting a daily tab of £6.8million.

Last month the Home Office began moving migrants into the Manor Hotel, which advertised a room for two at £130 earlier in the year.

The local council said the hotel was providing “approximately 100 emergency accommodation beds”.

Tory Datchet parish councilor Amit Verma, 39, told me: “The locals are totally against it. We weren’t consulted at all.

“The hotel was the heart of the village and important for its prosperity. The local population is furious.

The lawyer and father-of-one said villagers are now fighting to overturn the decision.

Thousands of migrants live in hotels, with taxpayers collecting a daily tab of £6.8m

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Thousands of migrants live in hotels, with taxpayers collecting a daily tab of £6.8mCredit: AP
Local council opposes arrival of migrants - saying it has not been consulted on plan

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Local council opposes arrival of migrants – saying it has not been consulted on planCredit: Jon Bond
Prince William in his Range Rover with police motorcyclists and emergency protection officers driving past the Manor Hotel

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Prince William in his Range Rover with police motorcyclists and emergency protection officers driving past the Manor HotelCredit: Jon Bond

The local Conservative Party sent leaflets to villagers’ homes, saying the Unitary Authority had only received 36 hours’ notice of the plan.

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council leader Andrew Johnson wrote to under-fire Home Secretary Suella Braverman saying ten homeless people who were living in the hotel had 24 hours to leave.

Demanding a meeting with Home Office officials, he said “residents are understandably concerned about the impact on their daily lives”.

He pointed out that Datchet has “almost no local support services for this cohort”, public transport is “restricted” and local schools are full.

Once the social center of the village, the mansion’s ground floor windows are now darkened and a sign on the door reads: ‘Hotel closed to general public’.

Anna Mistlin, 40, mum-of-two, said: ‘The Manor Hotel is in the heart of the Datchet Conservation Area. It should be where the village comes together, it should be the heart of the community.

“Now the shutters are down and it’s closed to the public.”

Anna, who runs a talent agency, added: “The support systems are not there for asylum seekers.

“The village doctor’s office and school are already oversubscribed.”

It is not known how many asylum seekers live in the hotel. During my visit to the village for two days this week, the residents of the hotel seemed to largely keep to each other.

An Iranian man in his twenties politely declined to speak when we visited a local store, while Omar, an Ethiopian father in his thirties, told me he had been waiting eight years for his immigration status to be decided.

After strolling for a smoke on the banks of the Thames, he said: “It’s a pretty village but there’s nothing to do.

“Most of the people at the hotel have recently come from France, some are only 14 or 15 years old.

“We do our own cleaning. We complained about the food but nothing changed.

Working at the nearby Candy Box corner store, Selva Kumar, 55, a father of two, described migrants as “polite and friendly” when they came for bread, crisps and soft drinks.

Walking through the center of the village, retired magistrate Pauline Allister, 70, said of the asylum seekers: “You don’t really see them around.

“They cause fewer problems than when the homeless lived there. But it’s not the ideal place to house asylum seekers, they have no business being here.

“We don’t have a bus service, there are trains but they are expensive.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak conceded this week that the migrant crisis is a “serious and growing problem” and that “not enough” asylum claims are being processed.

Only 4% of compensation claims made by people who crossed the English Channel in small boats last year have been settled.

As the backlog mounts, Home Office officials are said to be ‘refreshing booking.com’ in the search for more hotel rooms.

Downtown housing is either already full or too expensive, so rooms are in demand in Conservative-voting counties.

Mr Sunak revealed that 4,500 additional hotel beds had been booked since September 30, including some in his own constituency of Richmond, North Yorkshire.

The Allerton Court Hotel, a ten-minute drive from Mr Sunak’s home, is a Grade II listed Georgian mansion which will be used to accommodate Channel migrants.

The move comes despite local Hambleton District Council’s concerns to the Home Office that the hotel was already being used for local homeless people and Ukrainian families. The three-star hotel, with 44 en suite bedrooms, is located in the pleasant market town of Northallerton, which has a population of 16,000.

Residents said this week that the city lacks the resources to cope. Retired carer Jill Murdoch, 66, said: ‘I’ve been waiting two years for a dentist appointment and doctor appointments are now eight weeks long. I don’t see how they can accommodate additional people.

“Rishi Sunak lives around the corner in a mansion. Why doesn’t he host them?

Carly Taggart, 36, store supervisor, said: ‘We already have to travel to Leeds or Middlesbrough for hospital appointments. How will asylum seekers get there without transport?

“Rishi has no idea how this all works – he’s very rich.”

Shop worker Amy Ward, 29, said: ‘Our schools are overcrowded, so how are they going to get an education?

Unemployed Pippa Dewhirst, 44, supports the program saying: “They have to go somewhere, so why not here? It’s a big city.

But she added: ‘The government must provide adequate funds and facilities for her.

Hambleton council said it would not take legal action to try to overturn the decision, but other councils are heading to court.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has won a temporary injunction against the use of the Embassy Hotel in the seaside resort of Norfolk for asylum seekers.

It came after the Home Office booked another ‘very successful sustainable hotel’ popular with holidaymakers.

Ipswich Borough Council last week won an interim injunction over plans to use the town’s Novotel more for migrant accommodation, but this does not apply to the roughly 70 asylum seekers who are already there.

And East Riding of Yorkshire Council won a temporary order preventing the Home Office from using the Humber View Hotel after complaints that its remote location was unsuitable.

Prince William now lives near the village of Datchet

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Prince William now lives near the village of DatchetCredit: Getty
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Under fire from Interior Minister Suella BravermanCredit: Getty
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The Sun’s Oliver Harvey in DatchetCredit: Jon Bond
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The Home Office said its policy of housing asylum seekers in hotels was “unacceptable” and a “short-term solution”. But it means the asylum crisis has now moved from the Channel coast to the doorsteps of many voters.

Its success – or failure – could decide Mr Sunak’s fate at the polls.

  • Additional reporting: Alethea Farline