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Chalcots: Hotels warned not to chase profits amid ‘civil emergency’

Town Hall to reveal hotel bills charged during emergency evacuation

04 July, 2017 — By Richard Osley

CAMDEN’S finance chief has warned hotels against trying to exploit a “civil emergency” in the wake of the Chalcots estate evacuation.

Labour councillor Theo Blackwell admitted there had been “chaos” after the snap order to move 4,000 residents from the tower blocks in Adelaide Road ten days ago.

But he told last night’s (Monday’s) full council meeting that this had been exacerbated by hotels charging high prices as officials and volunteers searched for beds for the evacuated tenants and leaseholders.

While he stopped short of saying he would name and shame hotels which had not made rooms available at a fair price directly, Cllr Blackwell said details of where money was spent on emergency accommodation would be published on the council’s website for all to see at the end of the month. Camden spent half a million pounds in the first two days of the operation booking hotel rooms.

“One aspect of this I have been very concerned about, especially on Friday and Saturday, sitting in Swiss cottage Leisure centre is seeing the really fantastical prices charged by hotels almost on an escalator online, an algorithm to see money, the prices gong up and up and up,” said Cllr Blackwell. “So that’s why I asked officers to work immediately with the hotel trade to make sure that we were being charged base prices or reasonable prices, even though it’s tourism season in London. Not peak prices.”

He added: “We should remember of course that all expenditure over £500 per contractor is published online at the end of each and every month so these prices will be transparent. I’m sure the hotel industry will want to show that its played its part during this and not be seen as making profit from a civil emergency.”

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