Monday, 11 January 2010

Demonstration At The Mercure Hotel, Crawley

This afternoon local activists, including No Borders Brighton members held a demonstration inside the Mercure Hotel in Povey Cross Road, Crawley against the hotel's parent company's plans to turn the 254-bed four-star hotel into an immigration detention centre. The planning application by Arora International Hotels Ltd. was submitted to Crawley Borough Council last September and is due to be considered by the Council's Planning Committee on 25 January.

A dozen or so anti-detention activists unveiled a banner and leafleted the hotel's customers and staff (text below). This is the latest in an on-going campaign (previous demonstrations were held at Arora hotels in London 1, 2 and Manchester 1, 2) to pressure Arora International to withdraw their planning application.

More information and pictures to follow.


They no longer want to provide you with overnight accommodation, with food and drink, or to host your conferences and weddings. Instead they plan to go for a smaller and more select clientele, who they think they can make more profit out of.

Instead the owners of the Mercure, Arora International Hotels, want to turn it into a 254-bed detention centre and profit from the misery of the families and children that will be imprisoned there. To profit from the locking up of children whose only ‘crime’ is to be born into a family whose parent do not have the legal right to residence in the UK, who are locked up merely for the sake of the government’s ‘administrative convenience’.

Children are especially vulnerable to the physical and psychological effects of imprisonment and many end up suffering from illnesses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), effects suffered even after a brief period of detention. Research has shown that PTSD can adversely affect children’s brains, especially the hippocampus which plays and important role in memory formation and learning.

PTSD and other health effects were highlighted last month in a briefing paper entitled 'Significant Harm - the effects of administrative detention on the health of children, young people and their families' published jointly by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of General Practitioners and the Faculty of Public Health (also endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing).

In recent months the detention of children in immigration prisons has also been criticised in other important reports:
by the Home Affairs Select Committee, in a report entitled 'The Detention of Children in the Immigration System'; The Children's Commissioner for England Alan Aynsley-Green in ‘The Arrest and Detention of Children Subject to Immigration Control’ and by Refugee and Migrant Justice, formerly the Refugee Legal Centre, in ‘Does Every Child Matter?’

Also last month nearby Tinsley House detention centre, a 146-bed dedicated families and children facility, was the subject of a damning report from HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dame Anne Owers following an unannounced inspection in July. She condemned the conditions for children there as "wholly unacceptable". Do we need another of these monstrosities, an internment camp in everything but name, on our doorstep?


Crawley Borough Council is holding a planning meeting on 25 January to consider Arora Hotels planning application. We ask you to complain to the council ahead of that meeting or join our picket that evening.

Jean McPherson, Principal Planning Officer:

Or contact one of those named below:

The Manager, Mercure Hotel:
Tel: 0129 3820169 Fax:0129 3820259

Tim Jurdon, Head of Planning, Arora Management Services Ltd:

Phil Woolas MP, Minister of State for borders and immigration :

Bob Cotton, Chief Executive Hotel Hospitality Association:

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