Pontins ordered to apologise to Travellers after blocking or cancelling bookings

police pontins holiday camp

Pontins ordered to apologise to Travellers after blocking or cancelling bookings.

Holiday camp operator Pontins has been ordered to apologise to the Traveller community or face criminal charges after it was found to have blocked or cancelled their bookings.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said Pontins was guilty of ‘flagrant breaches of the Equality Act’ over a 12-year period.

The EHRC carried out an investigation after a whistleblower claimed in 2020 that Pontins had drawn up a list of 40 ‘undesirable’ Irish surnames and instructed call centre staff to listen for Irish accents.

It also found that the parks operator kept a list of ‘banned guests’ it believed to be Travellers, and staff were ordered to decline or cancel their bookings.

And the company insisted that guests were on the electoral roll, which the EHRC ruled was discriminatory.

Initially, the EHRC entered into a 12-month agreement with Pontins in February 2021, which required the parks operator to implement an action plan to prevent further discrimination.

However, the agreement was pulled in 2022 when the EHRC suspected Pontins was continuing to discriminate against customers because of their race.

Its subsequent investigation found Pontins had committed 11 unlawful acts.

Pontins owner, Britannia Jinky Jersey, said in a statement: “We are in the process of reviewing the unlawful act notice and investigation report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

“The specific incidents reported by the EHRC are historic issues predating 2018.

“The call centre where the incidents took place has closed and the majority of the staff involved have now left Pontins.

“We apologise to all who may have been affected. Pontins is committed to ensuring ongoing compliance with the Equality Act 2010.”

Pontins has just two holiday parks in the UK after the sudden closure of two parks in December 2023 and a third last month.

Pontins Southport has become the latest holiday park in the group to suddenly close.

A statement on the Pontins’ website and its Official Pontins Holidays Facebook page was shared which said: “It is with great sadness we announce the closure of Pontins Southport Holiday Park.

“After assessing the future viability of the park, we have come to the difficult decision to close our doors. Unfortunately, this means Pontins Southport Holiday Park will be closing from Wednesday 3 January 2024. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Pontins said guests who had booked to stay at the Southport park, in Merseyside, would be refunded.

There are now just two parks left in the Pontins brand, after Pontins suddenly closed two at the end of November 2023.

No public explanation was given by Pontins or owner Britannia Hotels at the time, but employees were told in an email the closure was due to a ‘decline in business’, according to reports.

The two remaining parks are Pakefield in Suffolk and Sand Bay in Somerset.