Homeless family stranded as Havering Council credit card declined at hotel

PUBLISHED: 16:53 31 March 2015 | UPDATED: 17:23 31 March 2015

Samantha Smith outside the Travelodge

Samantha Smith outside the Travelodge


A young homeless family were left stranded after Havering Council’s credit card payment was declined at the hotel they were due to stay in.

Samantha Smith, 33, and her two children aged six and 12 were told they could not stay at the Romford Travelodge in Market Place when attempting to check in last week.

The authority, which has since apologised for the gaffe, had been forced to place homeless families in hotels because the borough’s three hostels, which can house 279 people, were full.

But it seems its credit allowance had also reached its limit, forcing a panicking Samantha to ask her brother to pick them up from Brentwood, where they eventually stayed the night.

Another woman and her child were also turned away, it has been confirmed.

“It is disgusting,” said Samantha, of Harold Hill. “There was no money left on the card.

“There’s all these new houses but nowhere for us to go. It shouldn’t happen, it’s like the olden days.”

The family had to move out of their privately-rented home on March 19 because the landlord wanted the property back.

Samantha, who is due to start work with the council, said she told the housing team about her impending eviction two months ago but they would not help until she had left.

She and her children were then placed in the Ilford Travelodge, but that meant a long school run to Harold Hill.

When they were told they could stay in the Romford branch, they packed their bags and made the late-night trip.

The council has admitted fault. Cllr Damian White, cabinet member for housing and deputy leader, said: “Quite frankly, this is not good enough. We’re very sorry for the confusion and inconvenience caused.

“There was a problem with our credit card which has now been fixed and accommodation for Miss Smith has now been booked.”

A Travelodge worker told the Recorder the council reserves rooms, but payment is not taken until the guests check in.

“There was no money on the card,” she explained.

“We told the families they were more than welcome to pay for one night, and we could resolve the issue the next day but they didn’t want to.”

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