WIGANERS can rest assured that Haigh Hall will not be sold.
The latest full council meeting was told the borough’s “jewel in the crown” will always have public access and its sale is not being considered.
But the council’s handling of the country park was later criticised resulting in one councillor being ordered not to be heard by Mayor Myra Whiteside.
Coun Bob Brierley subsequently left the council chamber having commented on Haigh Hall while another motion was being proposed.
Cabinet member for culture and communication Coun Chris Ready earlier told the meeting that the site had been one of his priorities.
He said: “One thing I can say is that the Hall will not be sold. And I will keep saying it. Haigh Hall will not be sold.
“I was instructed to make this top of my list. Lots of work has been going on behind the scenes but this is a big job that needs to be done right.”
In reference to cuts already made at the Haigh Hall site, Coun Ready said the council would be making new plans to improve.
He said: “We need to change the way we manage it for the benefit of our residents. In hindsight we should have looked at different ways but we tried to do it on a shoestring budget. It has taken the present cuts and budget reductions for us to move on with a new way of working.
“In any budget making process we have choices and in my experience they are never easy. If it’s a question of supporting our elderly or our social care budget or putting funds into education, you can see why the Hall is lacking in funding.”
Coun Brierley raised his concerns in response to a motion from council leader Lord Smith which valued the impact of the borough’s environment initiatives.
He said: “Due to the devastation of Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust we have lost the zoo, we have lost the crazy golf and we have lost the miniature trains. For £15,000 we could change Haigh Hall.”
Coun Brierley was then ordered not to be heard, after a vote, for not keeping his comments relevant to the motion.
Last month the Hindley Independent representative joined a pressure group to protect Haigh Country Park.
Community activist John Hulme, from Aspull, formed the group in response to the council’s plan to seek private sector involvement in the running of the stately home and plantations.