Kent bride and groom left 'stranded' after Home Office puts asylum seekers in wedding hotel

Chris Wise and his fiancee Carole Haragan's wedding in Ashford, Kent has been cancelled. Credit: Chris Wise

A groom-to-be has said he's been left 'stranded' after his wedding was cancelled because the hotel it's being held at is being used to house asylum seekers.

Chris Wise and Carole Haragan from Ashford are due to tie the knot in August 2023, having made the booking three months ago.

But the hotel has now told them that the event is off.

Mr Wise said he received a phone call last week from the hotel who said they had to cancel the wedding as the venue had been taken over by the government for asylum seekers for the next twelve months.

"Everything was going swimmingly," Chris said.

"We had spoken to members of our family who live far away, and were keen to come and join in our celebration.

"Then we got the phone call.

"We were shocked, but also hacked off as you can imagine, we have done a lot of research to find exactly what we were looking for and that was it.

"We paid our money and everything was fine."

Chris says he thinks the hotel's decision has 'total disregard for the people of Ashford'.

He urged the local council to apply for an injunction against the Home Office over the plans, something that some other councils across the country have done to stop the government block-booking hotel rooms for asylum seekers.

Hotels are being used to house asylum seekers. Credit: ITV Meridian

"It would make no difference to my wedding now... But it would make a difference to the people of Ashford," he added.

"Couples have been left completely stranded and I think it's wrong that it's been allowed, and Ashford Council should take some of the blame."

In a statement, Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Executive Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: "We have no control over this decision at all, and are extremely angry at The Home Office on how they have handled this situation.

"They have ignored not only our views, but those of Kent County Council, Kent Police and local health services.

"They have shown a complete disregard for us and the local community, and this situation cannot continue.

"All Kent and Medway local authority leaders are writing jointly to the Secretary of State for the Home Office to ask her to stop using the county as an easy fix for what is a national, strategic issue."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain.

"The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently more than 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6 million a day.

"The use of hotels is a short-term solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation."

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