AN ESTATE AGENT who asked hotels to put up rough sleepers has accused them of “turning their backs on homeless people for Christmas”.

Paul Upfold, from Newhaven, said he had contacted chain hotels in Brighton asking them to take in 30 homeless people over the festive season. He said the guests would all be paying and his campaign would use money from the fundraising website JustGiving.

But the 35-year-old said once the hotels realised the guests were homeless, they told him his booking could not be taken. Some said they were fully booked.

Paul said: “I am truly disgusted to find out for myself that a large majority of hotels in Brighton including corporate companies such as Travelodge and The Royal Albion Hotel, along with a few more in the area, turned their backs on homeless people for Christmas.

“These are all big companies and they have all refused the homeless access.  “These companies are not interested in helping the homeless over Christmas even if the costs are covered in advance.”

“When I called these hotels to get prices I was put through to group and corporate bookings. All were happy to help and offer me availability along with prices.  “In some cases I was put through to the companies’ regional offices for the large bookings.  “I was told it would have cost roughly £2,000 a night to accommodate 30 guests.

“I then informed them that this would be achieved by a JustGiving page and that I would approach local homeless shelters to get trustworthy homeless people to stay in the hotels and free up further beds in the shelters.

“But once every company was aware of my plan the rooms suddenly became unavailable.  “One even said: ‘I’m so sorry we have just this minute taken a coach booking for the same times.’ “Even with hard working people’s money, a homeless person is not welcome in their hotels.”

“Homelessness is heartbreaking. Some of the homeless people I have spoken with actually have qualifications in professional areas and trades but find themselves homeless due to misfortunes, wrong turns in life, or losing loved ones.  “But these hotels look down on them and wipe their feet of them.

“Now I don’t have money and like most struggle day in day out, but I still try to give what I can.”

The hotels have been approached for comment. A spokeswoman for Travelodge said: “We appreciate the general public support to want to help the less fortunate at this time of the year.

“Our recommendation is that they directly contact a registered charity for the homeless, who have the expertise and infrastructure to help vulnerable individuals with the best practical and emotional support’’.