Glasgow ‘hell hotel’ tycoons paid in millions to house the homeless
Demands for a significant overhaul of homeless services to prevent ‘hell hotel’ tycoons from profiting millions of pounds are being made in Scotland.
Over the course of five years, the owners of two hotel groups received £25 million in taxpayers’ funds, while over 40 homeless residents tragically lost their lives, Glasgow Live reports.
It has come to light that the Glasgow City Council paid more than £25 million to two hotel chains starting in 2018 for housing homeless people.
Three men – Ikram Hussain, his son Adam Hussain and business partner Mukul Biswas – are linked to companies that run the Queens Park, Hillhead, Chez Nous and St Enoch hotels, which provide shelter to the homeless.
Millions of pounds have also been received by the owners of RMG Hotels Ltd, under the leadership of Taj Bassi as Managing Director. RMG is responsible for operating the Rennie Mackintosh Station Hotel, the Alexander Thomson Hotel, and the Rennie Mackintosh Art School Hotel.
However, a number of deaths have occurred in the city’s homeless hotels recently. The First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf, met bereaved mums Linda McVean and Maureen Thomson last week who expressed their sadness after the “nightmare” of losing their sons and later believed that Yousaf was “genuinely moved” after hearing their stories.
Linda, 54, lost her son Frankie, 30, in May this year after a suspected overdose of street Valium at the Queens Park Hotel situated in Glasgow’s southside.
She said, “I am appalled but not surprised at the amount of money that these hotel owners are collecting and the way the council has just kept the tap going without taking responsibility for people’s welfare. My son was not a drug addict when he entered the Queens Park Hotel but he was surrounded by drug dealing and drug taking and he was at a low ebb.
“I don’t believe he would have dabbled in drugs and died if there was proper wrap-around care for people at the hotels, with social workers, medical staff and drug workers available on a daily basis. The death count speaks for itself. If so many people are dying, there is a deadly health emergency but the council just looks on this as a housing challenge.”
The grieving mum expressed her understanding that numerous issues are arising due to a persistent lack of rental properties in Scotland. She said: “I hope the First Minister can now move towards giving guidance to all Scottish councils about minimum levels of care to be applied as a right to all homeless people who are accommodated in temporary accommodation.
“I don’t want hotels to shut down but I want to see an end to drug dens.”
According to Glasgow Live, the owners of the Queens Park Hotel are also associated with the Chez Nous Guest House, Hillhead Hotel, and St Enoch Hotel within the city. Since March 2020, at least 23 individuals have lost their lives while staying at these hotels, with suspicion that many of these deaths are connected to drug use.
Since March 2020, a total of 18 deaths have been reported in three hotels operated by RMG Hotels Limited – the Rennie Mackintosh Station Hotel, the Alexander Thomson Hotel, and the Rennie Mackintosh Art School Hotel. Following a February update from Police Scotland, it was confirmed that 36 homeless individuals had lost their lives across seven hotels that received significant rent payments.
Since that time, additional fatalities have occurred. According to information obtained through an FOI request, there were nine deaths at the Alexander Thomson Hotel, seven at the Rennie Mackintosh Station Hotel, and seven at the Queens Park Hotel, Glasgow Live reports.
It has been revealed that in May of this year, there was a spike in the number of overdoses, with two victims at the Rennie Mackintosh Station Hotel and three at the Queens Park Hotel, one of which was Frankie McVean.
Sean Clerkin, of the Scottish Tenants Association, has said that a public inquiry into the number of deaths at these hotels in the city is necessary.
He said, “We need an urgent framework for wrap-around services being on site and for a crackdown by the police on drug dealing in and around these hotels.”
According to The Daily Record’s Freedom of Information request to Glasgow City Council, the seven hotels received £2.5 million in 2019. However, by 2022, this amount had increased significantly to £8.2 million, and it is projected to exceed £9 million in 2023.
A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said, “The HSCP is committed to ending the use of bed and breakfast type accommodation for the provision of emergency accommodation for homeless households. In light of the recent deaths in the hotels, we have increased our harm reduction work within the hotels and offered additional support to the hotels.”