Courts have approved a three month closure order for the Great Western Hotel in the town centre.

The closure order, signed off on Wednesday at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court, was applied for in the wake of concerns about drug dealing at the Station Road hotel.

The building is being used as temporary accommodation to house rough sleepers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The closure order bans everyone except those staying at the hotel, emergency workers and Threshold staff from entering the building. The partial order lasts three months. The hotel is not closing.

PC Paul Bezzant said:  "These residents are extremely vulnerable and some are at risk of exploitation through their various associations; often linked with their illicit drug use.  

"There have been concerns raised around county lines and unwanted visitors to the hotel which also contravenes the current Government guidance.

"Apart from the usual concerns with regards to the criminality, there were also growing concerns about a health risk to staff, who are supporting the residents, and the residents themselves. 

"The order has been sought in consultation with and the support of our partners and we believe this is necessary and proportionate to combat the issues and safeguard those providing the facility as well as supporting the residents and the wider community." 

Coun Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing and public safety, said:  “This closure order is necessary to ensure the safety of some of society’s most vulnerable people during these difficult times.

“It is vital to make the hotel as safe as possible for the rough sleepers who are staying there, and I would like to issue a personal thank you to the hotel, the council’s Rough Sleeper Team and our partners at Threshold Housing Link who have been working flat out over the past few weeks to make sure Swindon’s homeless are properly cared for.”  

Michael Keenan, director at homelessness charity Threshold, which is supporting the 20 or so people staying at the GW Hotel, said the closure order may be effective in deterring drug dealers exploiting vulnerable people staying at the hotel.

“What is most important is that those individuals temporarily housed can sustain their accommodation and effectively the agreement they have with Swindon Borough Council may be compromised in various ways, sadly, should they succumb to exploitation,” he added.

“Therefore, the closure order at least provides a means for staff supporting the guests to swiftly obtain police assistance that will lead to removal of an individual who attempts to exploit the guests by drug dealing in the vicinity or by attempting to enter the hotel.”