Center Parcs to say big thank you

CENTER Parcs is to say a big thank you to the firefighters who battled to save the Elveden resort from being destroyed by fire.

CENTER Parcs is to say a big thank you to the firefighters who battled to save the Elveden resort from being destroyed by fire.

Next Saturday firefighters and their families are invited to a picnic on the golf course at Elveden, which will also include a barbecue and entertainment for the children.

Meanwhile bosses at the holiday park near Thetford, said they planned to keep 1,000 people on the payroll as they rebuild the fire-damaged plaza, but have announced that 270 workers will lose their jobs because of the damage to the business.

All those people will be guaranteed a job when the resort re-opens and will be given a bonus of eight weeks pay as a welcome back gesture.

Mr Dalby said: "Our staff are vitally important to the business which is why we are delighted to be able to keep approximately 75 per cent of them during the rebuild period. We look forward to getting Elveden Forest back into business as soon as we possibly can."

"We agreed with our insurers that we wanted to retain as many staff as possible. Ideally, that would have been everyone, but practically, realistically and economically, it was never going to be possible," he said.

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"There are mixed feelings among the staff, but they understand and many were expecting this kind of news."

It has been announced that the proposed rebuild of the Elveden Forest Plaza is planned to be completed by late spring 2003.

Demolition is underway and plans, together with an artist's impression, will be finalised shortly to rebuild the holiday village.

Martin Dalby, Managing Director at Center Parcs UK, said: "Our 2003 brochure comes out in September so we expect to start taking bookings by then. We are still waiting for the green light to go ahead so we can start building work but we should get that soon.

"At the scene of the fire, the current situation is that about half the debris has been cleared – it's still a very dangerous area with bent and twisted metal and broken glass everywhere.

"The cost of the fire is not yet known but it is in the region of tens of millions of pounds. In terms of loss of business, we have four holiday villages in the UK and one of them is out of action, so effectively we're loosing 25 per cent of the business.

"We currently have plans for the new design, which will include all the key ingredients of the previous building. It won't be exactly the same – it was built in 1989 and this will be 2003. We will have moved on and improved."

The demolition team is expected to have cleared the area by mid-June, with building work due to start later this year.

Although the designs for the new buildings are awaiting planning permission, Mr Dalby confirmed the new plaza would have a different look, but would contain the same restaurants, shops and leisure facilities.

The 3,500 guests who were moved out of from the park when the fire broke last month and holidaymakers booked in over the next 18 months have all been given holiday vouchers worth between £100 and £200 in compensation.