Premier Inn or OUT!!!

Existing B&B’s point of view from 3 business’s with approximately 75 years operation in St. Davids.

Dear Editor, As Part of a group of small business’s operating in the B&B sector in St David's we feel there are a number of very real threats that the arrival of a Premier Inn would have, not only on our existing businesses, but also on the future of St David's as a whole.

As local St David's people, we have all worked very hard in the hospitality trade to build our businesses within our community. Many of us have operated in St David's for many years providing a service, not only to the holiday making public, but also to the local population for small functions and family gatherings where visiting friends and family are looked after by people with a strong local connection. We all have family members who have attended school in St David’s; lived and worked in St David's for all of their lives and are members of clubs and organisations that help to make up our community.

In recent years, we have seen new B&B’s open in St. David's. These are often businesses opened by young families, who have moved to St David's, invested in both the property, to purpose build their accommodation, and personally into the way of life, not only as a B&B provider, but as part of the community. These additional B&B rooms are helping to fill the demand in peak season whilst not hindering the operations of other providers. They bring in new blood and contribute in every respect.

As small businesses, we all employ local staff year on year and some of us have seen different generations of the same family come and gain there first experience of the workplace with us as their parents did before, again all from the local community.

Many of us source our products locally again supporting the other small businesses – whether it be vegetables that are locally grown or other produce from the local retailers - many with local provenance. WE CONTRIBUTE!

In contrast, the proposed Premier Inn will introduce a large chain hotel with no local connection, an anonymous atmosphere and a strong marketing capability. We, as small businesses, will simply not be able to compete. Their supplies will be sourced from outside Pembrokeshire. THEY WILL NOT CONTRIBUTE!

Make no mistake, if this planning application were to be successful, the impact on the area, both short and long term, would be severe. This proposed chain hotel will be detrimental to the community and the very future of its special qualities so admired by our visitors.

Much has been said and written about the CLT and its part in this proposal. To be fair it is an undeniable truth that there is a need for affordable homes for local people and on that we can all agree. However; we are not of the opinion that the only method of securing this is through the Premier Inn application, and much less that it would be beneficial to the area in the long term.

Many of the arguments used in support of the Premier Inn proposal do not stand up under further scrutiny i.e.

i. No Funding for the swimming pool which means it would never be built; Is this seriously the only way funding can be gained? Whilst appreciating that a lot of hard work and research into achieving funding for this has already been done - None of us have a crystal ball into the future and as such it’s a scaremongering tactic used to try to generate local support.

ii. No affordable housing for local people; Again whilst appreciating this may be the current situation on the avenues explored, the refusal of a Premier Inn planning application would not deny any future proposal for affordable housing.

iii. A reduction in homes for rent for local people from 38 to as few as 20; does this mean that 20 or more are to be built regardless of the Premier Inn proposal?

iv. The loss of homes for local people in which to raise families to replace those lost to second homes and holiday homes which in turn would put pressure on the viability of Ysgol Dewi Sant; the arrival of Premier Inn would put our businesses under severe pressure and could lead to them being sold of them as commercially unviable. They would then probably be changed into private homes for holiday use or second homes. This would have a negative effect on school numbers, with locals being forced out of the community. It would also lead to the loss of existing local jobs, both directly and indirectly, with our suppliers.

v. The loss of 20 all year round jobs; the existing B&B’s would, through loss of trade, need less staff. Local business that are supported through these B&B’s would lose out on the trade and again require less staff. The community would probably lose more jobs than it would gain. When Premier Inn mention 20 full time jobs, they do not state how many would be sourced locally and how many would come from the existing organisation imported from other locations?

vi. The loss of 63 bedrooms…; during the year we do see short periods of full capacity. However, there are also large periods of less than full capacity. If a large organisation such as Premier Inn offer rooms for as little as £35.00 per room sleeping up to four people (£8.75/per person) how would we reasonably be expected to compete. This would simply lead to the loss of venues for locals, run by locals and employing locals.

After much consideration we cannot support the Premier Inn proposal. It is not only detrimental to the future of our business’s, but also for what we believe to be in the best interests of St. David's and its community for the future.

It is important to realise that the Premier Inn built in Haverfordwest has already had an impact on local business in the area. The well-established and positioned County Hotel has recently applied for planning permission for change of use of its B&B rooms to flats and it states ‘Unfortunately the occupancy rate for the hotel rooms is at a unsatisfactory low level primarily due to competition from recently constructed purpose built chain hotel in and around Haverfordwest.; and we all know which hotel chain that is!!!!

This should serve as a warning to the whole community and the planning authority as to what will happen in St David's if this planning application were to go ahead. WE HAVE TO FIGHT FOR OUR FUTURE AND WE WILL !