THE management of a Basingstoke hotel which dealt with a 'large group gathering' attended by police on Friday (April 30) has confirmed that the guests involved were attending a horse and trap racing event near Micheldever - but lied about their reason for stay.

Police were called to the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Old Common Road at 8.19pm on Friday evening, as a "precaution" ahead of a "potential situation".

However, Hampshire Constabulary said the group had dispersed by the time police arrived and therefore no enforcement action was taken.

The hotel's management has since confirmed that the large group of guests were in town for an unauthorised horse and trap racing event on the A33 near Micheldever, however this was not initially known by hotel staff.

In a statement, they said said: "Management at Crowne Plaza Basingstoke confirm that up to 30 rooms were booked with guests attending the event in Micheldever this weekend.

"All rooms were individually booked on third party websites with a range of arrival dates and all were contacted in line with Covid 19 protocols. A range of permitted travel reasons were given and availability was closed when the number of guests attending a funeral gave reason for concern with respect to Covid-19 risk."

The hotel team took steps to address the issue as soon as it was clear it could be a problem.

The statement continued: "When it was clear that there was the potential of a more significant event, hotel management contacted the police. Contact was established through the licensing officer who attended on Friday 30th April to review the management plan and police contact and support arrangements.

"On the evening of Friday 30th, the senior manger on duty implemented a planned closure of the bar when it became clear that it would no longer be possible to maintain Covid-19 protocols. The plan was to include police presence but their attendance was delayed and the hotel team effected this closure with a two man security team before two police officers were able to respond to our call.

"The management team decided not to reopen the bar on Saturday 1st May and informed the police of this decision in line with the agreed plan. With evident strain on police resources, security arrangements were increased and hotel availability remained closed with only 22% of rooms occupied."

Praising the efforts of the team at the Crowne Plaza, they added: "The actions and professional conduct of the duty manager and team were nothing short of remarkable on the challenging evening of Friday 30th April. Additional measures made Saturday 1st May relatively quiet.

"The impact of the event in Micheldever will have been significant across the majority of hotels and venues in the region and it came without notice from organisers or authorities."