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Community kept in dark over hotel's future

The Coniston Hotel...what happens next?
The Coniston Hotel...what happens next?

THE future of Sittingbourne's Coniston Hotel was still unclear today. Last week the Government announced it was scrapping highly controversial plans to convert the hotel into an induction centre for asylum seekers.

The owners, Accommodata, today refused to talk to the Kent Messenger newspaper. The manager, Ann Kerry, who was granted the liquor licence there last month, said: "Pity you working for a paper like the Kent Messenger.

"If you want to see how busy we are then come here at weekends and you will see for yourselves. I refuse to say anything more."

Bar bills at the hotel were today still stating that Accommodata were the owners. The town's Rotary Club were also still meeting there for their regular session.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We signed a contract with Accommodata to use the hotel as an induction centre for asylum seekers and that contract does have a clause concerning early termination. We are now facing limited financial penalties but cannot go into any further details."

Sittingbourne firm Persian Leisure, which owns Fat Sam's nightclub in the town, is still interested in turning the hotel into an entertainment venue.

Managing director Mehdi Afshar, whose brother Frank died in a car crash three weeks ago, said: "I am awaiting information from my agent who is dealing with it all."

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