Pontins pulls out of Hemsby

A POPULAR holiday camp shut its doors for good yesterday, blaming fewer visitors and escalating costs.

A POPULAR holiday camp shut its doors for good yesterday, blaming fewer visitors and escalating costs.

Shocked staff at Pontin's Holiday Park in Hemsby, near Yarmouth, were told they had 48 hours to leave.

And as the future of the site's 55 workers remained unclear last night there was further bleak news for the region as branches of Woolworths and Adams stores closed their doors for the last time.

The new owners of Pontin's, Ocean Parcs, said that the Hemsby site had to close because it cost too much to run and refurbish and fewer people were taking holidays there.

It means that this summer will be the first in 38 years that holidaymakers will not be staying at the coastal camp which has can cater for 1,800 guests.

Yesterday's surprise announcement follows the acquisition last March by Oceans Parcs of seven Pontin's sites, including one in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, for �46m.

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At the time the company said it would revitalise Pontin's but decided to abandon Hemsby from its investment plans after a feasibility study.

Last night the leader of Yarmouth Borough Council Barry Coleman said he was saddened by the news.

Mr Coleman said: “Obviously anything that reduces the work force at this present time is very sad.

“It will leave a big hole in the rural economy, and Hemsby in particular, as many people who work there live in and rely on the camp.”

A source close to the camp said that representatives from the company's head office visited Hemsby yesterday morning and told staff they had 48 hours to clear their desks.

Some staff were said to be in tears as the closure news came totally out of the blue.

Ocean Parcs said a consultation process will be launched to find alternative jobs for the 19 long-term and 36 short-term employees at its other six sites - but redundancies could not be ruled out.

The company said that the future of its Pakefield and other five sites looked secure because bookings were up.

Pamela Knight, spokeswoman, said: “It is with regret that we have come to this decision. The management and staff worked hard over the years to provide great holidays at this centre.

“We acquired the holiday camp on a short-term lease and reviewed its future potential and concluded that it is limited without significant investment which is not feasible within the remaining lease term.

“This combined with declining bookings and escalating costs has resulted in the decision to close immediately as it is not viable to trade the centre for the remaining nine months of the lease.

“However we believe that our six remaining holiday centres do provide exciting opportunities to expand Pontin's brand where bookings are up year in year.”

Ocean Parcs said that any holiday makers who have already booked at Hemsby for the forthcoming season will be able to transfer their booking to another Pontin's or have a full refund.