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Regency Park Hotel is housing asylum seekers confirms West Berkshire Council and Home Office

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West Berkshire Council has recently been informed by the Home Office that it is using The Regency Park Hotel to accommodate asylum seekers.

It has raised concerns with reactions within the community and has urged residents to raise any potential hate crimes, towards asylum seekers, with the police in order to "help them feel at home in the town".

The hotel in Thatcham recently closed its doors to hotel guests for an “exclusive use booking” which has now been confirmed as a housing arrangement to house asylum seekers.

West Berkshire Council has been informed that asylum-seekers have been allocated to the Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham,
West Berkshire Council has been informed that asylum-seekers have been allocated to the Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham,

The closure began on January 20 and will continue for the “foreseeable future” though the hotel told customers that it hopes to be open from July 1.

The council has said: "This is a private arrangement between the Home Office and the hotel, and we were not involved in their negotiations.

"We are also not involved in the planning or day-to-day activities at the hotel.

"The Council and other agencies are only involved by way of the provision of any statutory duties."

When weddings, parties, and hotel bookings were suddenly and unexpectedly cancelled, customers and concerned residents took to social media to find out what was happening.

The hotel, on Bowling Green Road, told customers who had made bookings, via email, that it was “unable to honour reservations”.

Much speculation then emerged on local message boards, some of which drew significant disagreement and resulted in removal.

The council has said that it has taken note of such activity and is working with Thames Valley Police as a result of messages seen.

The council said: "In recent days we've seen unkind comments on social media in relation to the asylum-seekers.

"This is not who we are in West Berkshire and to people making these hurtful comments we say; be kind."

It added: "We are working in partnership with Thames Valley Police around the concerning comments being made.

"Thames Valley Police will investigate instances of hate reported to them.

"Fortunately the people making these comments are in the minority and we know that the vast majority of residents are welcoming to people in need and will help them to feel at home."

As of yet, the hotel has made no further comment but has previously told Newbury Today that discussion of any guest booking is “private” and confidential.

Hotel general manager Teresa Duncan had stated: "“Obviously with the pandemic and the ensuing Government restrictions meant that the hospitality industry has been severely impacted around the UK and the hotel is fortunate to have secured a contract which allows it to continue as a business and move forward.

“The hotel’s priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all guests, customers and staff and we are continuing to work to do this as effectively as possible."

The Home Office spokesperson had also said: “It is right that asylum seekers are distributed fairly across the UK’s local authorities and we are working with councils to ensure this happens.

“Our New Plan for Immigration will fix the broken system and aims to reform the asylum system to make it fair but firm, enabling us to offer support to those most in need while returning those without a genuine right to remain in the UK.”

West Berkshire Council has encouraged those who experience or witness hate to report offences by calling non-emergency 101 or reporting online.

It also said: "If a crime is taking place right now, dial 999."

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