Weddings canceled at short notice after Home Office block-books country hotels to accommodate migrants

An alarming number of weddings and occasions booked months in advance are being canceled by hotels taking up commercial contracts with the Home Office to block-book rooms intended for asylum seekers who have illegally arrived in Britain

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Remix Staff
People thought to be migrants who undertook the crossing from France in small boats and were picked up in the Channel. Thursday, July 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

Weddings booked at popular country mansions and hotels across the U.K. have been canceled as establishments are urged to accommodate greater number of asylum seekers entering the country illegally.

The Stoke Rochford Hall Hotel, a Grade II-listed Victorian building in Grantham, Lincolnshire, was forced to cancel the weddings of three couples due to take place over the coming months to comply with what local media described as a “compulsory contract” with the government.

A spokesperson for the Stoke Rochford Hotel said: “The hotel has received notification from the Home Office that the current government contract is to be extended to take additional families with immediate effect.”

In its statement, it confirmed that plans three weddings would need to be canceled.

“We appreciate how distressing and setting cancelling a wedding is, not only for the bride and groom but for all the guests that have been looking forward to celebrating the union and in many cases have made travel arrangements.”

The local Conservative MP, Matt Warman, described the block-booking by the Home Office of two additional country hotels in the vicinity as “wholly inappropriate,” and said the number of people seeking to arrive illegally into the UK is “growing and unsustainable.”

The Home Office’s use of hotels across Britain to accommodate what has been a record number of asylum seekers illegally crossing the English Channel to reach Britain this year is not new. As the social and temporary housing route became quickly exhausted, the British government resorted to block-booking numerous hotels across the U.K. to cope with the demand.

The consequence of this has been felt by many people who have had their weddings and other special occasions either indefinitely postponed or canceled as a result.

In April, a Best Western hotel in Leyland were informed that the hotel would be unable to fulfill its contractual obligations as a couple’s wedding venue just three weeks before the day, after accepting a government contract to house undocumented migrants.

“It is supposed to be the best day of our lives and the hotel has ruined it,” the groom, Stuart Baines, told the BBC.

The Home Office has previously said it has no alternative but to block-book hotels, despite the rollover effect this could have on existing obligations, explaining that it is currently “dealing with an unprecedented increase in asylum cases.”

In July last year, a similar tale saw a hotel in Surrey taken over by the Home Office for the same reason, leaving a couple without a wedding venue just 11 days before the event.

At the end of last year, 26,000 asylum seekers were living in hotels in Britain, according to the Refugee Council as reported by The Guardian newspaper.

In a statement in August, the Home Office revealed the government was currently spending £5 million of taxpayer cash every day on accommodating asylum seekers and Afghan refugees in hotels, equating to £1.8 billion (€2.1 billion).

In a speech to the Conservative party conference in Birmingham on Wednesday, newly-appointed Home Secretary Suella Braverman reiterated her desire to clamp down on illegal migration, proposing the need for legislation to invoke a blanket ban on anyone arriving illegally from the European mainland from claiming asylum in Britain.

“It’s right that we extend the hand of friendship to those in genuine need,” Braverman told the conference, but insisted that “parts of the system aren’t delivering. We need to end abuse of the rules and cut down on those numbers that aren’t meeting the needs of our economy.”

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