Haigh Hall Hotel has safety orders banning upstairs overnight stays and use of roof terrace
The upmarket hotel at Haigh Hall has been slapped with orders banning guests sleeping upstairs and preventing the roof terrace being used.
Freedom of Information (FOI) Act requests seen by the Wigan Observer confirm Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) told Contessa Hotels last October that overnight stays above ground level were banned as there are inadequate ways of getting out if there is a fire.
The documents also confirm that around the same time Wigan Council slapped a health and safety prohibition on the roof terrace due to the structural integrity of the decking.
The revelations have been met with disbelief by the campaign group Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access for All, which has been embroiled in a major access row at Haigh and is now demanding the authorities take firm action against Contessa.
Protestors have accused the firm of breaching the prohibitions as reviews have been posted online from guests saying they stayed overnight since the orders were put in place.
And planning documents for the hotel conversion clearly show there are no bedrooms on the ground floor.
Campaigners also say the hotel has been advertising its roof terrace on social media despite it being out of bounds.
However, the fire service has said it needs people to come forward with proof of breaches, rather than simply internet reviews, to prosecute while Wigan Council says it is hoping to work with Contessa to resolve the health and safety problems with the terrace.
A campaign group spokesperson said: “We think it is absolutely disgraceful that the hotel has chosen to ignore the prohibition orders.
“The other thing we cannot believe is that Wigan Council has not acted on this.
“Anybody who uses the park regularly can see people have been sleeping there. We don’t understand why it has taken the community to flag this up.
“Once again this hotel chain seems to be able to do exactly what it wants.”
The FOI reply by GMFRS shows the prohibition was served on October 23 last year and this remains live.
The fire service confirmed that it is not safe for anyone to be sleeping on the upper floors of the hotel, but it is acceptable for weddings and other events to take place there.
Fire officials have been holding meetings with Contessa on a three-weekly basis to decide what will be done and are also in discussion with the local authority’s building control department.
However, the fire service also said that witnesses will need to come forward with evidence of overnight stays to begin the process of possibly taking Contessa to court for breach of the prohibition order.
Wigan Council has said it is meeting the campaign group next week to discuss their concerns about the hotel.
Wigan Council deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt said: “We are aware of the GMFRS notice and can confirm we issued a notice in relation to the roof terrace.
“It is the operator’s responsibility to comply with these notices, however, we will continue to work with the fire service and the hotel to resolve matters to allow them to be lifted.
“We’re scheduled to meet the Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access to All group next week to see how we can work together to ensure that everyone is able to benefit from the significant investment the council has made at Haigh.”
Contessa Hotels was approached for comment on the prohibitions but did not respond.