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Sudden hotel cancellations sparks confusion in Thatcham as West Berkshire Council and Home Office hold back comment

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Weddings, parties, and hotel bookings have been suddenly and unexpectedly cancelled at a hotel in Thatcham leaving customers confused and concerned.

The Regency Park Hotel has recently closed its doors to hotel guests for an “exclusive use booking” which began on January 20 and will continue for the “foreseeable future”.

Both the Home Office and West Berkshire Council, when asked to confirm reports that the hotel is now being used to house refugees or asylum seekers, have directed Newbury Today to one another for comment, but neither have given confirmation of the current status as it stands.

Regency Park Hotel has notified customers of its closure but, as of yet, has not offered them an an explanation for its reasons. (54499005)
Regency Park Hotel has notified customers of its closure but, as of yet, has not offered them an an explanation for its reasons. (54499005)

The gym is still open, although a number of users have said the renewal of their membership depends on the outcome of the situation at the hotel.

A wedding party had booked 20 rooms for a weekend in late March and has claimed to have had its plans “cancelled with no communication from the hotel”.

Through hearsay via hotel staff and neighbouring residents, the party said it had drawn its own conclusions as to why the hotel was closed, but ultimately said that the hotel offered “no explanation for the cancellation of the booking”.

“We have been left completely in the lurch by them,” it said.

A widower from Newbury, who planned to celebrate her 60th birthday at the hotel with her son in early February, dubbed the sudden cancellation as “bad management”.

She said it "wasn’t right" of the company to cancel her plans at such sudden notice.

The hotel, on Bowling Green Road, told her, via email, that it is “unable to honour reservations”.

It has told customers: “You are welcome to cancel without charge or alternatively rebook for the summer; we do hope to be open from the 1st of July.”

Many Regency Park Hotel customers, gym members and neighbours have now taken to local message boards to work out what was going on but confusion has ensued as customers are reporting different accounts.

Hotel general manager Teresa Duncan said that discussion of any guest booking is “private” and confidential.

She added: “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.

“I hope that you understand that we cannot comment beyond this.”

A Home Office spokesperson told Newbury Today that while they couldn’t comment on the placement of asylum seekers in individual hotels, they were “fairly distributed” across the country.

“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," the spokesperson said.

“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.”

However the district’s local authority, West Berkshire Council, has refused to comment and said it will not do so under instruction from the Home Office.

Thatcham Town Council said it had not been notified of the goings on at the hotel and individual ward councillors have taken it upon themselves to investigate.

Ward councillor Jeremey Cottam (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) expressed disappointment at the lack of communication and said that the town council had been left “in the dark”.

“We are quite unhappy that the Government and West Berkshire Council haven’t told us about it," he said.

“We are investigating it more, a Thatcham councillor has looked into it.”

He said, providing that refugees are staying at the hotel: “We have to look after people whoever they are.

“From a war-torn country, if they are in distress, fleeing oppression, if their lives are under threat, this country’s whole ethos is to look after these people.

“It is very sad, we should be able to prepare so it does not adversely affect surrounding neighbours.

“We don’t know who we can even talk to.”

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