Seaham holiday lets business ordered to close after breaching lockdown rules by allowing guests to stay
The owner of a holiday accommodation has been fined and ordered to shut after it allowed guests to stay during the lockdown.
Durham County Council applied for the closure of West Farm Holiday Lets, in Cold Hesledon, near Seaham, after investigations showed people were booking to stay at lodges during national lockdown and tier restrictions.
Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard the council’s community protection team received several complaints the business’s owner, Tracey Robinson, 49, of West Farm, Cold Hesledon, was allowing the bookings.
After investigating, the council served a Prohibition Notice on Robinson in May, ordering it to stop operating immediately.
It continued to receive complaints the lets were still operating during further restrictions and, on December 30, officers from Durham Constabulary attended.
Officers found two lodges occupied by people who said they were on a mini-break, and a second Prohibition Notice was issued to Robinson on January 8.
Another visit was made on February 20 when police spoke to three women who confirmed they had paid to stay.
Following these visits, and further evidence people were staying during restrictions, a fixed penalty notice of £1,000 was issued to be paid by March 26.
During the hearing, magistrates issued a Closure Order, forcing the premises to close until May 17 and ordered Robinson to pay legal costs of £1,673.
When contacted by the Echo, she said: “There are two sides to every story and this an ongoing complaint.”
Owen Cleugh, the council’s public protection manager, said: “We are pleased that the vast majority of the businesses in Durham have complied with the legislation and we would thank them for that.
"However, this closure order demonstrates that action will be taken against those who operate in breach of coronavirus regulations and ignore the safety of members of the public.”
Inspector Joanne Malkin, of Seaham Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Tracey Robinson continued to operate her business throughout lockdown, breaching Covid regulations.
“In response to community concerns, officers attended the premises and made efforts to encourage her to change her behaviour.
"This was ignored.
“Coronavirus remains a deadly disease and I would like to reassure our communities that we take issues like this seriously to keep the public safe.
“The majority of businesses made tremendous sacrifices to abide by the rules and next month will return to trading.”