Posh Devon hotel to create plush staff quarters with sea views

Devon’s luxury Burgh Island Hotel has bought a care home in order to transform it into some of the best staff accommodation in the UK. Korniloff care home in Bigbury-on-Sea will be converted to the tune of £500,000 into living quarters for staff, complete with large gardens, sea views and ample space for relaxation including a gym.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

Korniloff will take six months to complete and will provide 22 high end ensuite double bedrooms when finished. The provision of such quality staff accommodation will ensure that Burgh continues to attract and keep the best staff; bucking the trend of some hospitality venues, which find it hard to find staff.

This is not the first project Burgh has undertaken to provide staff with accommodation. In 2018 as the hotel expanded, Burgh bought Warren Cottage in Bigbury-on-Sea to help staff who were based further away from the island. As business continued to grow, often fully booked, it was clear that additional staff accommodation was needed.

Burgh had been interested in buying Korniloff for the past few years, but it only recently became available. Korniloff was originally built as a hotel in the early part of the last century and the intention is to give staff living quarters that match those on the island.

Giles Fuchs, owner of Burgh Island Hotel, said: “Since I bought the hotel, we have always tried to provide suitable accommodation for our staff, which is challenging given its location on a tidal island, so I am delighted to announce the purchase of Korniloff. Once renovated it will allow us to provide our hard-working and highly valued staff with a very high standard of accommodation. Our success over the past few years would not have been possible without them so it is very much deserved.

“South Hams is very expensive both in terms of rent and house prices, which makes it difficult for people to pursue a career in hospitality at the Burgh Island Hotel. Through providing quality accommodation, we hope to attract and retain the best hospitality talent to help give them a good quality of life and ensure that our guest enjoy the best experience while staying with us.”

At the height of summer, when over six million tourists flock to Devon’s magnificent coast, Burgh employs almost 100 members of staff to run, maintain and deliver its first-class service to guests throughout the hotel. In return the Burgh’s owners want to make sure that the staff have equally great accommodation to look after their wellbeing and happiness.

With only 16 staff bedrooms currently on the island and, given its remote location where access is controlled by the tide, it’s important that staff can live nearby. Burgh’s purchase of Korniloff is a move to shield employees from rising house prices and increasingly unaffordable rents, allowing them to focus on their roles at the hotel and progress their careers.

In 2022, amongst the 29 local authorities in the Southwest, South Hams recorded the highest property price rise, increasing by an average of 24.3%. Average house prices are now over £400,000 as the area becomes a popular destination for second homes and summer holidays.

It comes as plans for the huge expansion of the plush Devon hotel to meet a boom in visitor numbers and make it ‘the best hotel west of the Ritz’ are still under consideration by South Hams District Council planners. The aspiration for Burgh to be the ‘best hotel west of the Ritz’, and the scheme includes developing rooftop rooms which would rank among the country’s most sought after settings, as well as provide a new bar to allow for new guests and to allow casually dressed visitors to be split from those in 1930’s costume.

Proposals for the ambitious new development have prioritised respect for the island’s unique setting, and preserve the glamour of Roaring ‘20s for guests. An additional 15 hotel rooms in addition to the 25 already would be planned to be built, as well as 11 rooms of accommodation for staff, while a Glazed extension and first floor terrace over the Pilchard Inn, with the reinstatement of the café selling Cream Teas to rear.

The hotel, built on a private island in the South Hams in 1929, is famous for its art deco design, the sea tractor that brings guests from the mainland, and former guests such as Agatha Christie and the Beatles.

Britain mulls Swiss-style ties with Brussels

Senior government figures are planning to put Britain on the path towards a Swiss-style relationship with the European Union.

The move, intended to forge closer economic ties, is likely to infuriate hardline Conservative Brexiteers.

Caroline Wheeler, Harry Yorke, Tim Shipman www.thetimes.co.uk

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, last week signalled that Rishi Sunak’s administration intends to break from the approach adopted by Boris Johnson and remove the vast majority of trade barriers with the bloc.

In private, senior government sources have suggested that pursuing frictionless trade requires moving towards a Swiss-style relationship over the next decade. However, they insist this would not extend to a return to freedom of movement.

“It’s obviously something the EU would never offer us upfront because they would say you are trying to have your cake and eat it but the reason I think we will get it is because it is overwhelmingly in the businesses interests on both sides,” one said.

Switzerland has access to the European single market through a series of bilateral agreements.

However, the model also involves more liberal EU migration, and payments to the EU budget, with the bloc in recent years also pushing for the European Court of Justice to have greater oversight in the relationship. The Swiss have frequently debated restricting free movement from the bloc, but in the most recent referendum opted to keep it.

These are all red lines for members of the rebellious European Research Group.

It was also an approach that Johnson and Lord Frost, his chief Brexit negotiator, ruled out when they drew up the UK’s negotiating mandate in 2020.

Ministers are confident that the EU’s approach to relations with the UK is thawing as the continent faces the challenges caused by soaring inflation and the conflict in Ukraine.

“I think we will be doing everything we can proactively within our power to make changes to improve things when it comes to the EU,” one source said.

“The bigger picture on this is the EU seeing something which they weren’t expecting, which is massive support for European security from the UK with respect to Ukraine and they can see we are serious about being sensible grownups with the biggest military in Europe doing our bit.

“I think there is a very good way through this with more trust that we were ever going to have with either Boris Johnson or Liz Truss.”

The Tory Brexiteers are fiercely opposed to any move that risks returning the UK closer to the EU’s regulatory orbit.

Last night Frost said: “Any approach requiring the UK to align with EU rules to get trade benefits, whether as part of a Swiss-style approach or any other, would be quite unacceptable. Boris Johnson and I fought very hard to avoid any such requirements in 2020 and ensure the UK could set its own laws, and we should not contemplate giving this away in future.”

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme earlier this week, Hunt rejected the prospect of rejoining the single market but backed working to strengthen Britain’s relationship with Brussels.

He said: “I think having unfettered trade with our neighbours and countries all over the world is very beneficial to growth. I have great confidence that over the years ahead we will find, outside the single market, we are able to remove the vast majority of the trade barriers that exist between us and the EU.”

One rebel said they feared “unfettered trade” sounded eerily similar to the ill-fated Chequers deal drawn up by Theresa May in 2018.

The Labour Party, while ruling out rejoining the single market and customs union, have stated there are elements of Johnson’s Brexit deal that can be “fixed.” This includes a veterinary agreement with Brussels – helping to smooth issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol – and a deal which would see both sides recognise one another’s professional qualifications.

There are also mounting concerns in the ERG that the government is preparing to give ground to Brussels to resolve the disagreement over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Insiders have said a deal could see the EU drop most of its checks on goods passing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland if the UK takes a less ideological position on the role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.

But doing so would lead the group to try to “bring down the government”, warned one senior member.

The Brexiteers Chris Heaton-Harris and Steve Baker are ministers in the Northern Ireland Office and are working on a deal with Brussels.

But it is understood that warnings have been sent to Downing Street that it is the EU, not the UK, which must give ground on the ECJ. Similar warnings have been passed to the German embassy.

“Just because people like Mark Francois have not been going on about the ECJ does not mean that they have changed their view,” said an informed source. “They would rather bring down the government than accept the supremacy of a foreign court over any territory of the UK.”

A Downing Street source said Sunak was “taking the fight” to the EU but was also hopeful that a more constructive approach on both sides could bear fruit.

“Rishi wants to get this sorted as quickly as possible; there’s definitely a deal to be done,” a No 10 source said. “It’s our team’s sense that there is much more of a landing zone, in terms of what we would be happy with, than there has ever been.”

But they added: “He’s taking the fight to them. He’s not going to be giving up stuff that he and the party would not be happy with him giving up.”

Keir Starmer: I will abolish House of Lords to ‘restore trust in politics’

Keir Starmer will abolish the House of Lords and replace it with a new elected chamber as part of plans to “restore trust in politics”, the Observer understands.

Michael Savage www.theguardian.com 

In a sweeping constitutional overhaul, the Labour leader has told the party’s peers that he wants to strip politicians of the power to make appointments to the Lords as part of the first-term programme of a Labour government. Starmer said that the public’s faith in the political system had been undermined by successive Tory leaders handing peerages to “lackeys and donors”.

It is understood that Labour will hold a consultation on the composition and size of a new chamber as well as immediate reforms to the current appointments process. Final proposals will be included in the party’s next election manifesto.

It comes after a series of rows over peerages. Boris Johnson made a number of controversial appointments, including his friend Evgeny Lebedev, who owns the Evening Standard. He is expected to appoint political allies and junior aides as part of a forthcoming list.

Meanwhile, Liz Truss is also said to be planning a resignation list of new peers despite a disastrous leadership that lasted just seven weeks.

In a meeting last week, Starmer told Labour peers that there was now strong support for reform of the Lords, both across party lines and among the public. He outlined “some very clear principles” for reform, including that any new chamber should be elected by voters rather than appointed by politicians.

“I want to be clear that we do need to restore the trust of the public in every part of the United Kingdom in our system of government,” he said. “House of Lords reform is just one part of that … People have lost faith in the ability of politicians and politics to bring about change – that is why, as well as fixing our economy, we need to fix our politics.”

He added that it should be “truly representative” of the UK’s nations and regions, meaning it should have a clear role in safeguarding devolution. However, he also said that his proposals would ensure it should not replace any of the functions of the House of Commons, remaining a second chamber charged with amending and scrutinising legislation. The Commons would retain exclusive powers over the public finances and the formation of governments.

The proposals will also set out much stronger devolved powers, as part of a review of Britain’s constitutional arrangements overseen by Gordon Brown, the former prime minister.

Starmer told party peers on Wednesday that he regarded reforming the Lords as a critical part of his agenda aimed at “promoting inclusive growth and restoring trust in politics”. While he said that they would continue to play a “vital role” in the campaign to win the next election, reform was needed to show the public that Labour would provide a fresh start after a series of Tory scandals.

He pointed to Johnson’s recent use of his power to appoint peers as showing the need for reform. He said Johnson’s plans to reward “lackeys and donors” made him the latest in a long line of Tory prime ministers who have played party politics with the Lords and ridden roughshod over the appointments system: “We should be rebuilding trust in politics, but this can’t just be an article of faith – we need to show how we will do things differently. Reforming our second chamber has to be a part of that.”

Johnson has recently handed a peerage to Michael Hintze, a leading Tory donor, and previously awarded one to Lebedev. He is now said to be planning to hand more to the ultra-loyal MPs Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, and Nigel Adams, a former Cabinet Office minister and longtime supporter.

Johnson’s resignation honours list, which has not yet been announced, is also said to include his advisers Ross Kempsell, 30, and Charlotte Owen, a former assistant to Johnson believed to be in her late 20s.

Starmer had pledged to abolish the Lords as part of his leadership campaign, and to “replace it with an elected chamber of regions and nations”. Doubts were later raised about his commitment to the promise after he abandoned other elements of his leadership pitch. However, it is understood he now sees reform of the Lords as necessary to demonstrate that Labour would represent a decisive change from the Conservatives.

Starmer’s comments suggest that he is backing many of the ideas drawn up by Brown’s review. It is understood to support replacing the Lords with an upper house of nations and regions. It is also said to have backed a new round of devolution, including handing new economic and taxation powers to new independent councils of the nations and for England. Brown wants local mayors to have more power over education, transport and research funding.

During the meeting with peers, Starmer also made clear that he wanted to reposition Labour as “pro-business, pro-growth and can offer Britain a bright future”, adding: “We will be out there showing the public that there is a different way to this failed Tory economics … Britain has so much potential. Labour will harness it so we can lead the world again.

Labour has already announced that Starmer backs banning MPs from carrying out paid consultancy work as a way of improving ethical standards. He would also replace the ministerial code with an updated code of conduct. The party’s plans appear to include an entirely elected second chamber, but the details of the reforms have not yet been agreed.

The last big attempt to reform the Lords came under the coalition government led by David Cameron. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister, eventually had to abandon the plans in the wake of a humiliating Tory rebellion. His proposals would have seen 80% of peers elected and the total number of members cut to 450.