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Show fails to go on for British entertainers

MORE THAN 400 British musicians and dancers were returning home last night after being forced to abandon their annual summer tour in Spain because their holiday company owed pounds 34,000 to local hotels, writes Cyril Dixon.

The British consulate in Barcelona said 453 performers with the Carnival Guild of Great Britain were ordered out of two hotels on the Costa Brava. A spokesman said 409 left immediately, but the remaining 44 stayed after agreeing to pay for their own rooms.

He said the tour company, A&T Travel Brokers, of Leigh, Greater Manchester, had left between 20 and 30 tourists stranded on the Continent in identical circumstances last year. Nigel Griffiths, Labour's consumer affairs spokesman, demanded an inquiry into the firm's conduct and a new licencing scheme for travel agents.

Mr Griffiths wants the Department of Trade and Industry to order an inquiry 'to find out what has happened to the money'.

The performers, from the North-west and North Wales, have been entertaining at Spanish resorts for eight years. They had paid about pounds 250 each for the fortnight's trip to the Blanes and Pineda De Mar resorts. However, the hotel owners told them to leave on Friday night after A&T failed to pay the outstanding sum.

The British consulate spokesman said: 'Fortunately we were able to find the coaches that had brought them out, and locate the drivers, and the ones who wanted to go back were able to.'

George Tyce, who runs A&T, was unavailable for comment yesterday. However, he was reported to have accused the hoteliers of inflexibility. He told a newspaper he had forwarded pounds 8,000- pounds 9,000 deposits, followed by another pounds 5,000 and intended to send more when he 'sorted out' the firm's cashflow. He added: 'What more can we do when we are hundreds of miles away and the hoteliers are not open to negotiation? If they had been prepared to wait a few more days this would never have happened.'