Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Llanelli hotel earmarked for housing asylum seekers granted injunction against protesters

27 Jul 2023 5 minute read
A demonstration last month about the use of Stradey Park Hotel for asylum seekers

The owners of a four-star hotel in Llanelli earmarked for housing asylum-seekers have secured a temporary High Court injunction limiting the activities of protesters objecting to the plans.

Gryphon Leisure – which owns the Stradey Park Hotel & Spa in Furnace, Llanelli, Dyfed – asked a judge in London to impose an “urgent interim injunction” in a bid to prevent trespass and obstruction at the property.

Judge Roger ter Haar KC concluded at a hearing on Thursday that there was a “very strong chance” the hotel would not be able to “exercise its own property rights” and granted the injunction until late January next year.

The hotel owner’s injunction bid was adjourned by the judge earlier this week because he wanted people who had emailed him to be able to attend court and make submissions.

Several action groups are opposed to plans for the venue to host up to 241 asylum seekers which were announced in June.

On Thursday, a group of Furnace residents who live close to the hotel shared their concerns over the impact of the protests and the potential arrival of asylum seekers.

The judge said they spoke “powerfully and emotionally” to him about it.

Hard-right groups

Tracey Hallett, a carer whose grandmother had previously owned the hotel, said the majority of protesters were “peaceful” but claimed that “hard right groups had caused unrest”.

As a result of the protests and the proposed new use of the hotel, she had stopped using her nearby home for respite care, the court heard.

Ms Hallett’s daughter, Jessica Hallett, said she had become “petrified to live in my own home” due to “the activity of far right groups”.

Dafydd Parkman said local parents were “extremely concerned with the situation at present”, including about “very real safety issues” and the impact that plans for housing asylum seekers could have on the area’s “limited resources”.

Ben Morris raised concerns about the impact of plans on the local education system, adding that he was “unable to sell” his property because estate agents said it had fallen in value.

Stephen Williams, who got married at the hotel, said 60 weddings had been cancelled, while a local florist may have to close due to a lack of business.

He said the “wealth of feeling” over issues around the hotel was “overwhelming”, adding: “The normal law-abiding citizens of Llanelli feel this is wrong”.

Jonathan Rose, who works in the local entertainment industry, said many businesses in the area relied on tourism, with the hotel being a “community resource” in a “deprived area”.

Local pub owner Damian Hart said it had “lost a lot of revenue already through the hotel closing as we get a lot of footfall and a lot of parties from the hotel coming down”.

Forbid

Jenny Wigley KC told Thursday’s hearing that Gryphon Leisure wanted the temporary injunction to “forbid” protesters entering hotel land, blocking any entrance to the property or obstructing the owners, their employees or contractors from accessing it.

The barrister said the injunction was not intended to “interfere with the right to protest”.

She said in written arguments that hotel owners were urgently seeking an injunction to “protect” Stradey Park from “the actions of protesters opposed to asylum seekers being temporarily housed there”.

Ms Wigley said it was understood that opposition from members of the local community to the plans were “out of concern that bringing asylum seekers to the area will ‘change the dynamics of the area’ and risk local jobs”.

She said protesters had previously “dumped very large rocks by tractor” and erected a metal fence to block access to the hotel.

Protesters had also chained themselves to the ground, put up tents and marquees, waved Union and Welsh flags and held up signs, “some of which display racist and offensive slogans”, Ms Wigley said.

She said protesters had been “verbally aggressive”, had sought to “intimidate and threaten” staff and contractors and had “slashed the tyres” of the owner’s vehicles.

Ms Wigley said protest action prevented security contractors leaving the now vacant site, “essentially placing them under siege”, until they were “evacuated with a police escort” earlier this month.

She said Gryphon Leisure feared the hotel was “vulnerable to trespass and damage” and that their insurance was “under threat” as a result of actions by protesters, some of whom were camping overnight outside.

Unacceptable

The judge said in his ruling there is “clearly … an unacceptable level of protest which needs to be stopped” and noted that the injunction would not stop protesters altogether but would “at least stop the more unacceptable elements of the protests that are going on”.

He also said there were some protesters travelling from far away to demonstrate outside the hotel.

Furnace Action Committee spokesman Robert Lloyd said: “We’re very proud of our representatives and other residents of the area who put up an excellent case before the High Court.

“Naturally, we are disappointed. But we do, of course, respect the judge’s decision. We’ve just lost one part of the battle.”

Earlier on Thursday, Helen Thomas, 52, from Furnace, appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court to deny a charge of locking on to an object, other persons or land on July 9 with intent to cause serious disruption to those wishing to enter the hotel.

The legal proceedings come after Carmarthenshire County Council lost a bid for a High Court injunction on July 7 to temporarily block plans to use the hotel to accommodate asylum seeker families on the basis that it represents a material change of use and would be a “breach of planning control”.

The 77-bed site is said to have once hosted “major stars” from TV, film and sport, including the 1972 Llanelli rugby team that beat the All Blacks.


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
7 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Philip Davies
Philip Davies
8 months ago

The Judge ruled there was ‘an unacceptable level of protest’. This is staggeringly obtuse since very many British people are of the opinion that ‘there is an unacceptable level of illegal incursion into the country’ and moreover ‘an unacceptable level of contempt by Government and Authority for legal residents of their own country’.

Last edited 8 months ago by Philip Davies
wayne
wayne
8 months ago

The Judge Roger ter Haar KC has made a judgement. There will always be dissatisfaction, because in Law there are winners and losers. Very seldom is there a compromise! Everyone is entitled to an opinion it is how we disagree with other peoples opinion, differentiate us from Animals. Aggressive behaviour fuels conflict! It’s time for everyone’s opinions in LLanelli to be heard, Discussed in a Town Hall meeting and hopefully a Compromise secured. The sooner the better that this coming together of views, the sooner we can have peace.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
8 months ago
Reply to  wayne

Agreed. The Judiciary can only apply the Law. However, here is a festering, seemingly insoluble Social issue – one of many – that is also fraught by the ongoing ‘culture wars’. The only orderly way in which this could be dealt with is if the Legislature, in Parliament, and the Executive (as important branches of Government) get a grip on matters. Since there is, very regrettably, little convincing sign of any such efficient Government, local and national outcry will grow. History shows that if such pressing issues are neglected or botched for too long, local protests will inevitably coalesce into… Read more »

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
8 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

That’s very close to sounding like a threat. Not unlike that made by Enoch Powell.

The UK Government refuses to deal with asylum seekers properly because it perceives then to be the same as economic migrants. Furthermore this draconian UK Government has outlawed many forms of legitimate protest and at the same time continues to place asylum seekers in inappropriate facilities. Try speaking to yours friends the UK Government before you tell us there will be ‘rivers of blood’ if we don’t pull up the drawbridge of fortress Britain 🙄😒

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
8 months ago

The person with the Union Flag should be deported.

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
8 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

Botswana is a nice place

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
8 months ago

A judge in London says it all

This abuse of Cymru and her people has to end

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.