Reading festival-goers’ Mercure George hotel reservation canceled for Afghan refugees


A family preparing to make their annual trip to the Reading Festival had to hurry to find new accommodation after a hotel in the city was taken over by the Home Office to house Afghan refugees.

The family were scheduled to stay at the Mercure George Hotel on King Street in Reading town center on Saturday August 29 for the festival.

They were to come down from Doncaster in Yorkshire for the event and had booked two rooms at the hotel.

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Mum Jane told BerkshireLive they make reservations a year before the event and then cancel if they decide not to go.

But just days before the event – which will see large numbers of people book to stay in the city – all reservations have been canceled.

Jane and her family managed to find another place to stay.

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But the hotel is out of town, which means that one of their family will have to go downtown and back instead of being able to walk.

She said: “Experience shows that it is impossible to get taxis when the festival is taking place, so one of us will have to not drink for the day and park in one of the several local floors.

“It seems incredibly privileged and makes me quite uncomfortable complaining about it.

“I know what these people are going through is a thousand times worse than losing our hotel reservation. But at the same time, I think the reservations should have been honored.

“At this time of year, most of the people there would only have been there for this weekend.”

An email sent to the family on Sunday August 22, seen by BerkshireLive, read: “We are sure you have watched the recent turn of events with horror and disbelief and you may have sometimes thought if there was a way to help them.

“As the scale of the crisis in Afghanistan grows, the Interior Ministry grapples with the number of refugees to be repatriated.

“They started to contact local authorities to ask for help within their communities for housing.

“We were approached by the Interior Ministry to accommodate these people, after long deliberation, we agreed to accommodate these people for the interim.

“We did not take this decision lightly and know the effect it has on you and your plans, but we believe it was the right decision to take given the humanitarian crisis these people are facing. faced.

“We have been looking forward to your stay at the Mercure George, but due to changed circumstances as noted above we must ask you to seek alternative arrangements.

“We hope and are sure that our guest – you – will help us support these people in these difficult times and understand our dilemma.”

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The government has confirmed that it will host 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next four years, or about 5,000 per year.

People fled the country after it was taken over by the Taliban regime.

Earlier this summer, the same hotel was criticized for carrying out work on a protected courtyard.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The UK has a proud history of protecting people in life-threatening situations and we are determined to help as many Afghans as possible through the resettlement of Afghan citizens.

“We do not provide routine commentary on accommodation that may or may not be considered for people seeking asylum or arriving in the UK from Afghanistan, for protection reasons.”

The hotel chain has been asked to comment but has yet to respond.

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