St Albans’ Premier Inn used to accommodate homeless

Premier Inn

Premier Inn - Credit: Archant

Nearly £4,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent footing the bill to accommodate homeless people in the new £8.1 million Premier Inn hotel in St Albans city centre.

The district council has revealed it has been forced to use the hotel as it is struggling to cope with the burgeoning number of homeless people, which has resulted in a 1,054 per cent - more than tenfold - increase in spending on temporary accommodation.

At last Wednesday’s full council meeting, executive leader Cllr Julian Daly admitted that Premier Inn has been used to provide short- term accommodation for homeless people.

The budget hotel opened the doors of its 123-bedroom multi-storey building to visitors in Adelaide Street last year.

After the council meeting, the authority’s head of housing Karen Dragovic confirmed: “Of the £120,000 spent so far this financial year on bed and breakfast accommodation £3,600 has been spent there.

“We use a range of accommodation including a number of hotels both in the district and in neighbouring areas.

“Costs per night range from £45 in some hotels to £90 in others.”

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Ms Dragovic said that as Premier Inn’s room costs were at the “higher end of the spectrum” it was used only occasionally “when other alternatives have been exhausted.

“[But] sadly, homelessness in the district is on the increase. The number of households in temporary housing rose from 97 in January 2014 to 120 in December.

“We have a duty to house people who meet the homeless criteria. With limited housing stock available there is a very long waiting list for homes.”

When the council’s own housing units are full it resorts to paying for bed and breakfast accommodation while awaiting a suitable vacancy.

Spending on B&Bs was £10,419 in 2012/13. This rose to about £34,000 in 2013/14, before jumping dramatically to £120,000 so far this financial year.

Cllr Dreda Gordon said she was surprised the council was using Premier Inn. She said: “Putting people in hotels isn’t the answer – a hotel isn’t a home.

“When Premier Inn was going through the planning stages, people weren’t talking about it being used by the council for temporary accommodation. It isn’t good enough. We should be providing more housing.”

Cllr Chris White called on the council to investigate the housing crisis, adding: “We have to find a way to eliminate that cost. We shouldn’t have to use Premier Inn.”

According to the hotel’s website, the cost of a room ranges from between £40 and £100 per night.

A spokeswoman for Premier Inn said she could not comment as “we have no record of homeless people staying here”.