Owner of Milton Keynes' asylum seeker hotel reveals truth about who will be living there

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It’s NOT what people think, he says

The owner of the city’s controversial asylum seeker hotel has spoken exclusively to the Citizen about exactly who will be living there and when they will move in

Siddharth Mahajan’s company Tulip Hotels and Real Estate Ltd bought Harben House hotel in Newport Pagnell just two weeks ago and has been busy refurbishing it ready for a contract with the Home Office.

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And he says it will NOT be used for single male asylum seekers, as the town had been led to expect by MK City Council and MP Ben Everitt.

Harben House Hotel in Newport PagnellHarben House Hotel in Newport Pagnell
Harben House Hotel in Newport Pagnell

"As far as I know, asylum seeker families will be moving in there. It won’t be single men,” he said. “I think the first ones are moving in there tomorrow (Friday).

This news was confirmed by the person managing the hotel on behalf of Countrywide Hotels, the company Mr Mahajan is recruiting to run the place.

"I’ve been out buying nappies and baby food today for the families,” she told the Citizen. “It’s just gossip that the place will be filled with single males.”

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However, we are still awaiting official confirmation of usage from Countrywide as well as the Home Office.

The U-turn adds to the confusion about the hotel, which has been successfully used to house Afghanistan refugee families for the past two years.

Even city officials have not been informed of the new usage for the place, it would appear.

The saga started last Thursday when MK City Council leader Peter Marland heard of the asylum seeker plan through the Citizen and got confirmation from official sources that 200 single, male asylum seekers would be moved there.

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MP Ben Everitt seemed not to know about the plan, but quickly sought details from his government. Only this morning he put out a post on social media assuring people that the government would screen the new arrivals before they reached Harben House – but admitted that some of them might “throw their documentation in the sea” before they arrived.

Meanwhile people in Newport Pagnell have expressed major concerns about the security and safety of local people with 200 unknown males in their midst.

Mr Everitt has today put in a question to the Home Office about who will be staying at the hotel. He is currently waiting for a response.

Meanwhile he’s asked that nobody been moved there until the confusion is cleared up.

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He told the Citizen this afternoon: "I've been in contact with Ministers and advisors at the Home Office and have been very clear that migrants should not be moved into the hotel until we're absolutely clear on their circumstances, our support requirements and we've had a chance to communicate these details to the community in Newport Pagnell."

Labour’s council leader Pete Marland said: “MK City Council just needs to know who will be staying there, when they will be arriving and what services they will need.

"The fact that we do not know highlights just how useless and chaotic the government’s whole system is.”

Meanwhile hotel owner Mr Mahajan said: “I am just the provider. I don’t have control over the Home Office. They told me two days ago that Harben was going to be used for families and the first family is going in there on Friday.”

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"I am a good man and I have been working very hard in my life and I am giving back to the community. I work with 12 local authorities providing accommodation for homeless and people in need.”

In April, Mr Mahajan’s company bought Whately Hall Hotel in Banbury, which has been used to house asylum seekers through the Home Office since early last year.

"I use a reputable company, Countrywide, to run my places. They are well-run and very professional and people need for worry,” he said.