Sarah Parker-Khan (pictured) booked 19 rooms at a Premier Inn
Hotel chain Premier Inn has been branded ‘heartless’ after the company allegedly turned away homeless people when a mother-of-five offered them 19 rooms she had paid for.
Sarah Parker-Khan, 38, booked the rooms at the Premier Inn in Weston-super-Mare but was unable to travel after the south west was hit by Storm Emma.
She said staff at the hotel would not refund her £2,976 booking so she decided to offer them to local people who were living on the streets during sub-zero temperatures.
But Mrs Parker-Khan, who was due to attend a gathering with members from Newton Abbot Young Farmers, was furious when two homeless people were allegedly refused entry.
She told MailOnline: ‘Because of the heavy snowfall we had no physical way of getting to Weston-super-Mare but Premier Inn refused to refund our booking.
‘We then decided to do something positive and I contacted a number of local charity groups in Weston-super-Mare.
‘I told them we had 19 rooms available and it would be good to get homeless people out of the freezing conditions.
‘One homeless charity told me they were at crisis point because of the freezing temperatures.
‘We were willing to be guarantors and responsible for the room and I was told people needed to bring two utility bills with them.
‘But homeless people are not going to have that kind of identification and when they arrived they were turned away.’
Mrs Parker-Khan, who is the Mayor of Ashburton in Devon, said she hoped that Premier Inn would still be able to let those in need stay in the empty paid-for rooms.
She said: ‘We put our faith in the homeless people by offering them the rooms and it was a shame that Premier Inn could not do the same.’
Mrs Parker-Khan was told by the Premier Inn in Weston-super-Mare that they could not refund her booking
She was due to travel with members of the Newton Abbot Young Farmers (pictured) for a gathering
Mrs Parker-Khan, from Dartmoor, also accused the hotel of ‘discrimination’ after a woman whose house was flooded was able to stay because she had identification.
She added: ‘Another woman contacted me to say that her home had been flooded and she asked if she could use one of our rooms.
‘Premier Inn let her stay because she had the right identification on her – it is a clear case of discrimination.
‘What they did was really heartless. These people are in desperate need and the whole country is pulling together at this time to help others.
‘But they showed a lack of compassion and it was beyond belief for them to turn people away and allow them to sleep on the streets in those conditions.’
The chairman of one of the local charities, Comfort and Warmth, said he sent two rough sleepers down to the hotel at 7pm on Saturday night.
Jon Codd told Somerset Live: ‘They went with the booking reference but were sent away because they did not have ID.’
Another homeless charity, Wormwood Rocks, said: ‘In our little home town of Weston super Mare, we have witnessed many acts of kindness from many people and groups. To all these people, thank you, you all truly rock.
‘One such person contacted one of our homeless groups today to inform them that due to weather conditions their party would not be able to travel to Weston today.
‘As a result of this they had 19 rooms including breakfast for two days available for free at The Premier Inn, Weston-super-Mare.
‘This was due to the fact that the Premier Inn would not refund anything from their booking.
Wormwood Rocks posted on their Facebook page to inform people that the two homeless people were turned away
‘However such a generous and thoughtful act could not go to waste.
‘One of the local groups, Comfort and Warmth, sent two of their homeless down to the hotel.
‘The chairman of the group, Jon Codd, said: “We sent two rough sleepers down at around 7pm. They went with the booking refence but were sent away because they did not have ID”.’
A Premier Inn spokeswoman told Somerset Live: ‘As a business which works extensively with all disadvantaged groups through our WISE (Whitbread Investing In Skills and Employment) programme we fully understand the good intent behind this gesture, however for legal, as well as obvious guest safety and security reasons, we need the names of everybody staying in our hotels and the lead booker must be accountable for all guests.
‘We spoke to the guest involved and informed her of this both on Friday morning, and again in the evening but unfortunately no names were supplied.
‘Extensive checks of our CCTV footage does not appear to support anyone being turned away from our Hutton Moor hotel on Friday evening but we are clearly disappointed vulnerable people feel let down through absolutely no fault of their own and will be reaching out to the two local homeless organisations involved.’
MailOnline has contacted Premier Inn for comment.