A Stoke-on-Trent couple have told how police were twice called in – after they refused to leave their North Wales holiday home.
Martin and Jan Dunne have been caring for 80-year-old Doug Evans at their Anglesey second home during the coronavirus pandemic and wanted to remain there during Wales’ ‘firebreak’ lockdown.
But the holiday park was told it had to close and when the couple refused to leave they were twice visited by North Wales Police.
Now Martin and Jan have been ‘reported for summons’ after allegedly ‘breaching Covid-19 regulations’.
It has been a massive shock for the couple who are now back in their Birches Head home and finding it more difficult to look after Doug who lives alone in Trentham.
The ‘firebreak’ lockdown started on October 23 and the trio did not leave the £300,000 holiday home at Plas Coch Country and Leisure Retreat until October 25.
Jan, aged 58, said: “We kept being threatened with the police so my husband said ‘call the police’ because that was where we were up to. They came out to us and were really understanding and assured us as they left that we were not breaking any rules and were fine.
“The next day we had more knocking on the door. We were told we still had to leave. Another visit from the police came.
“Although we explained the same circumstances the police said they all had a mandate from their chief constable saying they could not take anything into consideration. They cautioned myself and my husband which I am horrified about because I have never broken a law in my life.”
The couple had upgraded to a bigger holiday home last year so they could look after Jan’s uncle who has dementia, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.
Jan added: “We were in our own self-contained property and were more secure than we can ever be in comparison to a more built-up area like Stoke-on-Trent.
“In normal circumstances he needs our support all the time and on top of that we’ve got these ever-changing Covid restrictions. We know he would be putting himself and others around him at risk because neither of our homes are suitable for us all to live together.
“Dementia is a progressive condition so as time goes on he needs even more support and that’s why we upgraded to get a more comfortable place so we can easily look after him and it ticked all the boxes.
“After a lot of stress and pressure we have been made to leave our very safe environment in our holiday home.”
The retired couple normally spend three-and-a-half weeks out of four at their holiday home with Doug.
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Jan added: “We were observing the rules and keeping our heads down, nobody needed to know we were there. All we needed was our gas and electricity and the ability to go in and out when I needed to go to the shops.
“We decided we could not take this anymore so we decided to come home. We are devastated.
“We are having to go backwards and forwards across a city that is at high risk. We are supposed to be cutting down journeys but we have got to if he is in trouble.
“Now he is in his own home and I am on pins every time the phone rings because I think what’s happened now. We visit him twice a day just to make sure he knows we haven’t forgotten him.
“We all lived together in a perfectly good place where we don’t bother anybody or anything.
“Uncle Doug is upset because he is not being looked after properly like he has been used to because I am not there. He has lost concept of the time, day or night and we have to direct his medication by phone.
“Once the lockdown eases we are hoping to move back simply to protect my Uncle Doug. For every hour we spend here he could be going up the road now.”
Here’s what North Wales Police have to say:
North Wales Police have confirmed they visited the site. The couple were not issued with on-the-spot fines.
A police spokesman said: “Police attended a caravan park on Anglesey following a request from the site owners, who were making arrangements to close the park in line with the Welsh Government ‘firebreak’ Covid restrictions.
“It was reported that the occupants of one caravan were refusing to leave. They were spoken to by police officers and subsequently reported for summons for breaching Covid regulations.”
Chief Inspector Owain Llewellyn added: “North Wales Police’s approach to enforcing Covid legislation continues to place an emphasis on engaging, explaining and encouraging people to abide by the rules. Enforcement action will only be used when appropriate or other approaches have failed.”
Park Leisure operates Plas Coch Coastal and Country Retreat. The ‘firebreak’ location ends on Monday.
Here’s what Park Leisure has to say:
A Park Leisure spokesman said: “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, our goal has been to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our teams, our holiday home owners and our holidaymakers, while at the same time adhering fully to all Government guidelines and ensuring that we protect and support our valued local communities.
“On October 19, Wales announced a ‘firebreak’ meaning that the Welsh Government prohibited the use of second homes across holiday parks in Wales from October 23 until November 9. Following this announcement, England then announced a four-week lockdown from November 5 until December 2.
“As the guidelines in England and Wales have changed and become more stringent, we’ve been working hard to communicate these changes to our guests and support them in safely returning to their primary residences.
“On this occasion, we did have to call on the authorities to help with that process and to ensure our customers were adhering to the updated Government guidelines.
“Customer service and safety is paramount to us and we look forward to welcoming all our guests back to enjoy their holiday accommodation as soon as we are permitted to do so.”
Here’s what the Welsh Government has to say:
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Unless they are using the accommodation as their main residence because they do not have an alternative, or the business has been asked to continue to provide services by the Welsh Government or the local authority, anyone staying in a holiday park was required to leave during the two-week firebreak in line with the requirements for tourism businesses to close.”