A soon-to-be married couple have been left “devastated and disgusted” after their wedding reception was suddenly cancelled by the venue they had booked.
Proposals to turn Larkfield Priory Hotel, Aylesford, into accommodation for asylum seekers scuppered the bride-to-be’s plan for the big day.
Ditton duo Bev Collins and Paul Curtis, 61, were due to be married at Ditton Church in September and head to the London Road hotel after, but were given the shock news it had been cancelled two weeks ago.
Now, after being under pressure to find a new reception venue, Bev, who has lived in the village for two decades, has slammed the hotel and claimed they are still owe £200 from a £2,500 payment already made.
“We were shocked when one night in April we saw the hotel has closed to the public,” the 51-year-old said.
“I immediately contacted the manager and had a generic reply saying it had closed and they were planning to tell us in a couple of days.
“We were never told why it was closed, except it was for a private function. But we heard a lot of rumours, including an ex-employee I knew who claimed a lot of staff were laid off.
"We deserve a proper apology..."
“We are both absolutely devastated and disgusted by the way we have been treated.
“We tried to call several times, but never got an answer, you can imagine that we were getting concerned as we had paid over £2,500 already.”
Ms Collins contacted Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch, who had previously advised plans for the immigration centre were ditched, and said she was a real help and understanding about their annoyance.
But the couple, who have switched to the Village Hotel in Maidstone, are still awaiting an apology and explanation.
She added: “We have been so lucky that the Village Hotel has the date available and we have booked there.
“Unfortunately this is a lot more expensive, and a wedding that we could afford is now becoming more and more expensive.
“We have managed to get back some of our money, but for some reason, they are still holding £200.
“We have sent several emails, and are constantly trying to call. My partner has been up to the hotel, but it is still closed.
“We feel that we deserve a proper apology as well as the rest of our money. We also feel that we should be compensated for our extra costs, but more than this for the stress this has caused.”
Tory MP Tracey Crouch said she and the borough council were not consulted over the plans to house asylum seekers there, although they had been told about the idea and were assured they would hear from the Home Office.
She previously said: “There has been a lot of speculation on various local resident groups about the proposed use of the Larkfield Priory Hotel for immigration purposes.
“Neither I nor the local council were consulted about this, although we had received notification that it was being considered and the Home Office would be in touch.
“Residents started to have bookings cancelled and some expressed concern.
“Given the strong views on both sides of the immigration debate I wanted to seek clarity of intent and highlight local views as well as practical concerns about the use of the hotel to house illegal immigrants.
“Following conversations with the Home Secretary I have received notification that the Larkfield Priory Hotel will now not be used to accommodate asylum seekers.
“I hope people will understand the sensitivity around these matters and the reason for why, until now, I have been unable to make public comment on the matter.
“I am sad that people have had bookings cancelled as a consequence of the Home Office discussions with the hotel and hope that those who wish to can rebook them accordingly.”