MP criticises Pontins and Scarisbrick Hotel operator in Parliament

A British hotel chain which has been voted the worst in Britain for the eighth year running must improve its “truly appalling record”, MP Damien Moore told Parliament today.

The Southport Conservative MP said Britannia Hotels, which owns Pontins holiday camps and numerous hotels, is causing “untold damage” to seaside resorts such as Southport as well as other towns and cities.

Britannia was named Britain’s worst hotel chain for the eighth year running by Which? Magazine earlier this month.

The firm owns Pontins holiday park in Ainsdale in Southport in addition to The Scarisbrick Hotel and The Prince Of Wales Hotel on Lord Street in Southport town centre.

MP Damien Moore asked for urgent action to be taken when he raised the issue in Parliament on Thursday with Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden MP.

He said: “Britannia Hotels has been voted, for the eighth year in a row, the UK’s worst hotel chain.

“This is doing untold damage to resort constituencies like mine in Southport.

“What does my Right Honourable Friend have to say about this truly appalling record?”

Oliver Dowden MP said the issue is something he is taking “a close interest in”.

He said: “Well my Right Honourable Friend is absolutely right to raise concerns about the management and cleanliness practises of sites owned by Britannia Hotels and he has also raised it with me in private.

“I know that in November my Right Honourable Friend the Minister for Sport, Heritage and Tourism met with them, he has again been in contact with them yesterday to raise these concerns.

“Of course local authorities have the appropriate powers to deal with this but this is something I am taking a very close interest in.”

Mr Moore is among six MPs representing areas where Pontins are located who are pressing for change.

The MPs have held a meeting with the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, Nigel Huddleston to discuss a range of issues at the sites and possible solutions.

 

Pontins provides half-board and self-catering holidays, featuring entertainment at its holiday parks which are located in: Southport (Merseyside), Prestatyn (Denbighshire), Camber (East Sussex), Pakefield (Suffolk) and Burnham on Sea and Weston Super-Mare (Somerset).

Founded in 1946 by Fred Pontin, they were once very popular with families wishing to holiday in the UK.

However, in recent years they have come under fire from both holiday makers staying at the parks and those living close to them, despite often the best efforts of local staff. Issues have varied from site to site but include anti-social behaviour, criminal activity, litter, dirty accommodation and more general environmental health concerns.

In a joint statement following the meeting, Moore MP (Southport), Sally-Ann Hart MP (Camber Sands, East Sussex) and Dr James Davies (Vale of Clwyd) said: “We have all received a huge number of complaints about these sites, not only from visitors, but also the communities in which they are located.

“These complaints are compounded by stories of the poor treatment of staff.

“A great number of families have been forced to cut their holidays short because of the poor state of both the accommodation and facilities at these holiday parks, whilst those who live close to them are desperate for an end to the anti-social behaviour, criminal activity, litter and noise.

“A significant proportion of recorded crimes in Camber stems from the Pontins site, whilst the figure is estimated to be around a quarter in Prestatyn.”

MP Damien Moore is part of the Southport Town Deal board which recently submitted funding proposals worth £50million to the Government.

They include an ambition to build a new waterside events and convention centre on the site of Southport Theatre, an immersive light and sound show on the Marine Lake, and support towards Southport Pleasureland becoming an all-weather, year-round attraction for visitors.

The town attracted over 9.1million visitors last year and work is being undertaken to significantly increase that number in future years.

While there are ambitious plans in the pipeline to substantially improve Southport, the poor feedback about Pontins in Ainsdale is leading to calls either for major improvements to be carried out or for current owners Britannia to sell the site to new owners.

The statement from the MPS adds: “These holiday parks were once an asset to the areas we represent, but are now increasingly a burden and are tarnishing the reputation of some of the best holiday resorts in the UK.

“There has been very little investment in these holiday parks for years and we are concerned that the owners are simply running them into the ground.

“We have all tried to engage with the owners to discuss the issues and a way forward, but to no avail.

“It is our view that if the owners are unable or unwilling to invest in the holiday parks to bring them up to an acceptable standard, and rectify all of the issues we have received complaints about, then they should consider selling them to a company which can and will.”