Anger as coachload of people from Bolton heads to Tenby after being forced to leave Porthcawl

Pembrokshire Council has asked the police to investigate a coach load of holidaymakers from Bolton and the north-west of England due to arrive in Tenby on Wednesday after they were turned away from Porthcawl.

The coach rolled into Porthcawl on Monday only to be greeted by news that Bridgend County Borough Council was to go into local lockdown 24 hours later.

The bus will now travel on to the popular seaside town in Pembrokeshire on Wednesday, a county where coronavirus infection rates remain some of the lowest in Wales.

The council said Dyfed Powys Police told it there was nothing stopping the bus arriving into Pembrokeshire and instead the council will ramp up enforcement around the town.

The coach full of tourists turned up at the Seabank Hotel on Porthcawl’s seafront on Monday afternoon having come all the way from Bolton and the north-west of England.

The Seabank Hotel in Porthcawl

The Seabank Hotel in Porthcawl
(Image: Matthew Horwood)

A coach in front of the Seabank Hotel in Porthcawl

A coach in front of the Seabank Hotel in Porthcawl
(Image: Matthew Horwood)

Instead of staying the four nights the hotel rearranged their stay and transferred them to a sister hotel in Tenby due to the restrictions that were due to come in to place.

This is what people think of the local lockdown


Bolton is at the centre of local lockdown in northern England with an infection rate of 99 cases per 100,000 which was the highest in England at the start of September. In Pembrokeshire, the infection rate stands at just 5.6 cases per 100,000.

Even though there are restrictions in place there, the rules say residents from Bolton are allowed to go on holiday outside the area with people from their own household.

In Wales, the rules are more stringent and say people cannot travel in or out of an area “without good reason”. The rule has already seen two pensioners from Caerphilly lose hundreds of pounds for holidays that they had to cancel when the county went into lockdown.

The coach tour was run by Alfa Travel which is based in Chorley in England. The company said its coach was not solely comprised of holidaymakers travelling from Bolton, but from customers across the North West region.

A spokesperson said: “We carefully monitor government advice and under the current restrictions in place, residents are still able to travel out of Bolton for the purpose of taking a holiday. Again contrary to media reports, at no point were the customers travelling with the intention of attending the now cancelled Porthcawl Elvis festival.

“Further to the announcement of restrictions in Bridgend, we have been in regular correspondence with the county council and are moving the guests out of the restricted area, as soon as is reasonably practical to do so, as agreed with the council. We have a duty of care to the wellbeing of our guests, as well as the residents of the local area to comply with the restrictions and have acted quickly to make sure we are complying with the ever changing rules.

“The hotel will remain closed from Wednesday until further notice.”

The news led to anger from people living in the county and further afield who questioned why visitors were allowed to travel from a town with such high levels of coronavirus infection.

One person said: “That’s ludicrous. We’ve got a caravan in Amroth and aren’t allowed to visit from the Rhondda, even though we’d be confined to a caravan and not in contact with anyone else.”

Another Pembrokeshire resident pointed out: “They can’t mix in their own town but can come to Wales and do what they want.”

Pembrokeshire council said it had referred the matter to the police.

A spokesman said: “There are no restrictions to stop people leaving Bolton to go on holiday other than they should be doing so with people with whom they live (or in a ‘bubble’ with).

“There were no current restrictions on the bus load of persons leaving Porthcawl either at the time, and nothing to stop them from being in Tenby.”

He added the council’s enforcement team would be monitoring premises in Tenby to make sure they were complying with the current regulations.

Siân Gwenllian, Plaid Cymru MS for said: “People in lockdown areas in England can travel to other areas including to Wales on holiday. People in lockdown areas in Wales can’t travel out of area, including to other parts of Wales. Doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Bolton holidaymakers had booked a short break at the Seabank Hotel in Porthcawl through Alfa Travel and Leisureplex Hotels Limited.

But when it was confirmed Bridgend would be the next area to go into a local lockdown, the hotel organised a transfer to its sister hotel in Tenby, the Cliffe Norton Hotel, a 53-bedroom hotel overlooking Tenby’s North Beach.

A source at the hotel said the bus was due to arrive on Wednesday and the residents would be staying “only for a few days”.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ““We cannot comment on individual cases or on whether or not English regulations enable people to travel beyond areas subject to local restrictions.

“We want to do everything we can to keep Wales safe and prevent the spread of the virus. We would ask anyone with symptoms of the virus, who thinks they may be ill or lives with someone who is ill not to come to Wales for the time being.

“The approach we have taken when introducing local restrictions has been to prevent the spread of the virus out of those areas. As a result, people living in parts of Wales where local restrictions are in place need a ‘reasonable excuse’ to enter or leave their local authority area.”

Article source: https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/anger-coachload-people-bolton-heads-18975816