Bosses at Premier Inn allegedly refused to let homeless people sleep in 19 rooms which had been bought and paid for – forcing them to spend a night in the snow .
Sarah Parker-Khan, 38, booked the rooms at the Premier Inn in Weston-super-Mare for the night of Friday, March 2.
Sarah, who lives on Dartmoor, had been planning to stay with a group attending the south west Young Farmers gathering, reports the SomersetLive.
But when snow stopped their journey, and the hotel refused to refund her nearly £3,000 she had spent, Sarah decided to give away the rooms to homeless people stuck out in the freezing conditions.
However Sarah said that when a homeless charity sent rough sleepers to the hotel with her booking reference, staff turned them away.
Premier Inn say CCTV footage does not support this claim.
She said: “The heavy snowfall meant that we had been unable to travel to the area. I asked if we could have a refund for the rooms, but I was told that wasn’t the policy in circumstances such as this.
“Given that we had spent nearly £3,000 on the rooms we were a little disappointed about this.”
Sarah and her friends therefore decided to do something with the spare rooms and them away for free to the homeless in the area.
She said: “We thought as we couldn’t use the rooms then we might as well do something decent with them.
“I contacted a number of local homeless groups and told them that we had 19 rooms available at the hotel.
“I also notified the hotel that these homeless groups would be bringing people along later that day.”
One of the local groups, Comfort and Warmth, reportedly sent two of their homeless down to the hotel.
The chairman of the group, Jon Codd, said: “We sent two rough sleepers down at around 7pm. They went with the booking reference but were sent away because they did not have ID.”
This was much to the dismay of Sarah and her friends.
She said: “The homeless were turned away from the hotel. It was absolutely disgraceful. They could have shown some compassion and let them stay.
“We were putting our necks on the line by letting people we did not know use our rooms. That could have made us liable for any costs if they had damaged them. But we put our faith in them.
“It was a shame Premier Inn could not do the same.”
Sarah was able, however, to allow other people to stay at the hotel.
She said: “It’s discrimination. I can’t believe they let other people stay at the hotel but not the homeless.”
Two of the local homelessness groups Sarah contacted were Wormwood Rocks and Comfort and Warmth.
The former had issued a statement on its Facebook page yesterday evening claiming it had been contacted in relation to the 19 free rooms.
The post read: “In our little home town of Weston-super-Mare, we have witnessed many acts of kindness from many people and groups. To all these people, thank you, you all truly rock.
“One such person contacted one of our homeless groups today to inform them that due to weather conditions their party would not be able to travel to Weston today.
“As a result of this they had 19 rooms including breakfast for two days available for free at The Premier Inn, Weston-super-Mare.
“This was due to the fact that the Premier Inn would not refund anything from their booking.
“However such a generous and thoughtful act could not go to waste, so the coordinator of the group was informed and given booking details.
“He then got a group of people together and took them to The Premier Inn. It was at this point The Premier Inn turned them away.”
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A spokesman for Wormwood Rocks told Somerset Live that it was the chairman of Comfort and Care who sent the homeless to the hotel.
The spokesman said: “Sarah and her party could not make it, the hotel would not refund her so she kindly offered it to the homeless of Weston.
“The chairman of the charity comfort and warmth sent down some guys who were turned away.”
Premier Inn has since explained that they are unable to offer rooms to people without proper identification checks.
A spokeswoman said: “We spoke to the guest involved and informed her of this both on Friday morning, and again in the evening but unfortunately no names were supplied.
“Extensive checks of our CCTV footage does not appear to support anyone being turned away from our Hutton Moor hotel on Friday evening but we are clearly disappointed vulnerable people feel let down through absolutely no fault of their own and will be reaching out to the two local homeless organisations involved.”
This content was originally published here.