UK holiday parks close with immediate effect as locals fear sites will be used to house asylum seekers

By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Holiday camps in the United Kingdom announced closures with immediate effect on Thursday raising concerns the sites will be used to accommodate large numbers of asylum seekers.

Holiday park operator Pontins revealed two of its resorts, Prestatyn in North Wales and Camber Sands in the southeast English county of East Sussex, would shut their doors and apologized to all customers who would have their bookings canceled and refunded.

The move is expected to result in hundreds of job losses.

Similar unexpected closures of holiday camps and hotels across the U.K. have occurred in recent years shortly before contracts were announced with Serco, a Home Office subcontractor responsible for sourcing accommodation for the influx of asylum seekers arriving in Britain.

The news prompted unsubstantiated claims on social media that the sites would be used to house migrants, and local politicians were contacted to address these concerns.

James Davies, the Conservative MP for Vale of Clwyd where the Prestatyn park is situated, revealed on Thursday that he had “sought and received confirmation from the Home Office that there remains no intention to use the site to house asylum seekers” and said his thoughts were with “all those employees affected by the closure.”

However, many remain unconvinced.

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The Home Office has a history of attempting to acquire Pontins sites. In February this year, it shelved plans to repurpose one of the company’s holiday parks located in Ainsdale in northwest England after locals lodged objections about access and the impact on tourism in the area.

At the time, the Guardian newspaper reported that “Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is hunting for large sites… including former university accommodation, holiday parks such as Pontins, and surplus military sites” to house migrants after the government vowed to reduce the taxpayer burden of nearly £7 million a day to accommodate new arrivals in hotels across the country.

Pontins is owned by Britannia Hotels, which the Daily Mail newspaper reported back in June has entered into a multitude of lucrative taxpayer-funded contracts to house asylum seekers. Of the 60 sites in its portfolio, at least 17 are understood to have been block-booked by the Home Office to accommodate migrants.

The Telegraph further revealed in June that Britannia Hotels is housing one in ten of all asylum seekers living in Britain, making more than £100,000 per day under the ownership of founder Alex Langsam, dubbed the “Asylum King.”

The Home Office has not publicly refuted claims that the closed Pontins parks will follow suit and be repurposed for asylum accommodation.

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