Center Parcs apologises for disruption caused by evacuation at Elveden Forest after reports of suspect device

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EADT; Mike Page Aerial Photo Library; Center Parcs, Elveden; PICTURE COPYRIGHT MIKE PAGE - PICTURES AVAILABLE THROUGH ARCHANT SUFFOLK PHOTOSALES WITH A DONATION TO CHARITY AS AGREED; PICTURES RECEIVED - OCTOBER 2009 - Credit: Archant

Center Parcs has apologised for disruption caused to holidaymakers who were evacuated from shops, restaurants and a swimming pool at its Elveden resort after a customer reported overhearing someone mention a suspect device.

Hundreds of people at Center Parcs in Elveden have been evacuated. Picture: John Nice

Hundreds of people at Center Parcs in Elveden have been evacuated. Picture: John Nice - Credit: Archant

However, a spokesman from the holiday company said the safety of its guests had to take priority.

• Center Parcs Village Square evacuated after reports of suspect device

Suffolk Police were called to the site at around 8pm on Sunday, July 24.

“A guest reported overhearing a suspicious conversation around 8pm between two other guests regarding a suspect device,” a Center Parcs spokesman said.

“As a precaution central areas were evacuated and the authorities were contacted.”

The team at Elveden tweeted on Sunday night to say the village square would remain closed for the evening and asked people to watch the park’s television channel for updates.

An alarm told people to evacuate but it was not until after 11pm that Center Parcs tweeted to say: “A full search has been conducted and there is no evidence to suggest any public threat. Thank you for your understanding.”

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A spokesman for the park added: “The police conducted a full search and gave permission for the area to be reopened.

“We are sorry for the obvious disruption last night, however, the safety of our staff and guests will always take priority.”

Suffolk Police also released a statement at 11.38pm on Sunday to say there was “no evidence to suggest there is a threat to the public”.

Center Parcs at Elveden. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Center Parcs at Elveden. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Tourists took to social media to express their views about what happened, with one person on Twitter describing it as a “total joke” and another saying the information provided to residents was “not good enough”.

However Center Parcs tweeted holidaymakers back to say: “We have to err on the side of caution,” while Lorelai Lapis tweeted to say: “Would you rather they had done nothing and it turned out to be a bomb?”

History of Center Parcs

Center Parcs at Elveden. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Center Parcs at Elveden. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Since 1989, thousands of children, parents and grandparents have enjoyed the wide variety of activities at Center Parcs in Elveden, which are designed to cater for the whole family, such as climbing, canoeing, swimming and relaxing in the spa.

Since then it has been credited with not only providing summer and winter breaks for families but also putting Elveden, on the Norfolk and Suffolk border, on the map.

However the 480-acre resort was hit by a devastating fire in 2002 which destroyed much of the site.

It was most definitely not the end though, as Center Parcs quickly committed to a £60million rebuild and reopened the site within just 15 months.

In recent years it has added various attractions, including cable waterskiing in 2008 and the Tropical Cyclone water ride in 2012, along with the Venture Cove water playground in 2014 and extended zip wire in the same year.

Many families have cut back on holidays since the recession of 2008 but Elveden has always reported seeing a high occupancy rate, perhaps benefiting from more families looking to holiday in the UK.

Earlier this year it announced it had invested £20m as it seeks to attract a wider range of guests – and cater to a growing number of “3G” holidaymakers.

The resort near Brandon, which employs 1,800 staff, is targeting its investment to broaden the appeal of its recreational and catering facilities for such customers, with two family restaurants refurbished, expansions to its popular climbing wall and its Action Challenge activities, and a revamped bowling alley.