Six people have been arrested following two fires at a Carmarthenshire hotel which is being readied for asylum seekers.
The incidents occurred at Llanelli’s Stradey Park Hotel when a large gathering of protesters pushed over security fences to gain access.
Dyfed-Powys Police described the scenes on September 30 and October 1 as “another concerning escalation in behaviour” among some protesters who object to the planned use of the hotel by the Home Office for up to 240 asylum seekers.
Further arrests, it said, were expected.
The force’s Carmarthenshire commander, Superintendent Ross Evans, said officers always tried balance people’s right to protest peacefully with the rights of others and with preventing crime and disorder.
“However, the behaviour of some individuals has gone far beyond this over the past few days,” he said.
Dyfed-Powys Police said in a statement that officers put out a vehicle fire in the grounds of the hotel late on September 30, and that a 48-year-old man from Caerphilly, and two women, aged 53 and 52, from Cleveland and Peterborough, were arrested on suspicion of arson and other offences.
The statement said a planned “drive-by” on October 1 at the hotel resulted in several motorcyclists forcing their way through the main entrance, despite officers standing in their way.
A large number of protesters then pushed over security fences and forced their way onto the hotel grounds, where some caused damage to the hotel by smashing windows.
At 10.30 pm on October 1, a fire was reported in a stairwell at the hotel.
At the same time, said police, fireworks and other missiles were fired towards officers while vehicles were moved in an attempt to block access for the Mid and West Wales Fire Service.
The fire was extinguished. A 40-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman both from the Carmarthen area, were arrested on suspicion of arson and a Llanelli man, aged 66, was arrested on suspicion of obstructing emergency services. Officers are continuing to review footage.
Superintendent Evans said: “These latest arrests come following another concerning escalation in behaviour of some protesters, which has once again resulted in significant damage to the hotel property.
“Dyfed-Powys Police will not tolerate unlawful behaviour – a protest does not provide an excuse to commit criminal offences. Where an offence is committed, we will take all reasonable and proportionate steps to bring offenders to justice.”
He added: “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those who have demonstrated peacefully over the past few weeks, and appeal for calm to resume. I would also like to thank the team who have dealt with the disorder at the hotel site over the past few days – they have done so in very difficult circumstances.”
The fire service said yesterday that its Llanelli crew had attended the hotel late on October 1 after police put out the stairwell fire.
Footage shared on social media showed dozens of protesters within the hotel grounds on October 1, including outside the reception area.
In one of the videos a man is heard saying: “Amazing scenes.” He said the motorcyclists at the end of the drive-by “all came through”. He laughed, then added: “Their fencing is not looking good, folks.”