MP Graham Stuart, has held a virtual conference with holiday park operators from across the constituency.
It was held to give them an opportunity for them to share their experiences of how the sector has been affected by the lockdown restrictions imposed as a result of coronavirus.
Holiday parks across the country have been forced to close since measures were introduced in March to slow the spread of Covid-19, as members of the public were told to stay indoors as much as possible.
This included restrictions on people journeying to second homes due to concerns over unnecessary travel and placing additional pressures on rural services and hospitals.
The roundtable gave representatives from across the sector – including from parks in Withernsea, Hornsea, Cowden and Routh – to pass their experiences and concerns directly to Graham, with a consensus emerging on the importance of being able to reopen different elements of parks as soon as it is safe to do so and the need for a flexible furlough scheme to allow staff to return to work while still receiving assistance with wage costs.
Commenting after the meeting, Graham said:
“In normal circumstances, holiday parks are a huge part of our economy, bringing visitors to towns like Withernsea and Hornsea and commerce to local shops, butchers, bakers, local tourist attractions, you name it.
“They’ve had to deal with holiday cancellations, refunds, and disgruntled customers over the course of the last few weeks while also staying open to provide vital accommodation to those who need it.
“It was a good chance to hear their concerns and I have immediately worked to follow these up with the relevant Ministers in Government.”
Since the meeting, and following representations from Graham on the need for a more flexible scheme, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has confirmed that the Government’s commitment to cover 80% of the cost of furloughed employees’ wages up to £2,500 per month is to be extended until the end of October. From the beginning of August, it will be made more flexible to allow for workers to return to work part-time, with Government and employers combining to pay their wages.
Of crucial importance to parks is when they might be able to once again open their doors to commercial customers. On Sunday, the Boris Johnson laid out that future measures will be determined by a new ‘COVID Alert Level’ system that will be determined both by the rate of infection and the number of coronavirus cases. The UK is currently at Level 4, however if this continues to fall then the Government’s aim is to consider reopening certain hospitality and leisure facilities from 4th July onwards.
Andrew Howe, of Sand le Mere Holiday Village, added:
“The virtual roundtable proved to be a really useful exercise, and I’m pleased to have been able to attend. Our sector’s had to face a lot of difficulties so it was great to be able to pass these directly to Graham.
“Our industry’s seasonal so for us, it’s important to be able to open as soon as it’s safe, as we’ll have already missed the Easter weekend and the May bank holidays. Even if it means only opening up certain parts of our parks for the time being.”
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