“Significant inquiries” have been made by investors within a range of different sectors in the former Pontins holiday park site in Ainsdale in Southport after its sudden closure earlier this month.
New Sefton Council Leader Cllr Marion Atkinson said that council officers have been trying hard to “secure meaningful contact with Pontins / Britannia and to remain open to parties who retain an interest in this site (of which there have been many).”
The local authority’s immediate concert has been to provide support to Pontins staff and to try and find them new jobs after the closure of the park “with immediate effect” on 3rd January this year.
Ainsdale councillor Lynne Thompson asked several questions about the current situation with Pontins at the full Sefton Council meeting at Bootle Town Hall.
She asked: “Can the Cabinet Member reassure Ainsdale Ward members that this council will remain in contact with Britannia Hotels, the owner, and either encourage or work towards a solution to what could be a very serious issue with a large site possibly becoming derelict or unused.
“Whilst never in the best of condition, Pontins provided cheap, low-cost holidays for many years, for many visitors and their spend was important to the local economy in both Ainsdale and Southport.
“I am aware the Council has already made efforts to contact Britannia Hotels for further information, as well as working with partners to support those made redundant by the park’s closure.
“Can the Cabinet member confirm there has been an initial meeting with the owners of Pontins to discuss their proposals for the future of the site, with a further meeting to follow?
“Will the Council be questioning the current owners in relation to concerns raised around the condition of the site and its facilities after the Fire Authority attended a flooding incident at the site New Years Day.”
Cllr Marion Atkinson was appointed as the new Sefton Council Leader at the meeting, having previously served as Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills.
She replied: “The Council has been pursuing engagement at a senior level with Pontins / Britannia and/or their representatives, for many years.
“Since Britannia announced the immediate closure of Pontins on 3rd January 2024, Council officers have made contact to seek clarity on the position and as an immediate priority, offered to provide support to help their staff find alternative employment.
“We have offered to meet with Britannia and their representatives to discuss next steps.
“We have requested details of the appropriate contact to signpost other interested parties seeking to take on the site.
“We have also fielded a number of significant enquiries from other investors within a range of different sectors who have indicated their interest in the site.
“Whilst there remains the lease that Pontins / Britannia hold, the Council has very little control in day to day affairs, including whether the site remains operational or not. Nevertheless, the Council’s property team are managing compliance with the lease, and the condition of the site and buildings (including, but not limited to, the flooding reported over Christmas).
“Pace of progress is very much dependent upon the aspirations, intentions and approaches adopted by Britannia.
“As is the potential for imminent or ongong meetings. There has been no meeting with Pontins / Britannia since the closure was announced, however the Council will continue to seek and remains keen on active discussions.
“I am reassured by officers that they have endeavoured to secure meaningful contact with representatives acting on Pontins / Britannia’s behalf, with senior representatives of the company directly and also to remain open to other parties who retain an interest in this site (of which there have been many).”