Wigan dad says he is owed more than £2800 by Haigh Hall hotel firm after his daughter's wedding was cancelled
An angry Wigan dad has hit out at a hotel firm who owe him more than £2,000 for a wedding reception he booked.
Phillip Ashton forked out £2,835 so his daughter Sophie Ashton and partner Sam Leach could enjoy their dream day at Haigh Hall, in June this year.
But he was shocked to learn that the wedding reception had been cancelled after Wigan Council terminated its lease with the firm who run the hotel, Contessa Hotels.
Since then, Mr Ashton, from Standish, says he has been “hitting a brick wall” in trying to get his money back from Contessa.
The 58-year-old said: “I booked the venue for my daughter’s wedding reception in June 2020 last May.
“I paid a deposit of £2,000 and it was all okay.
“So I went back in September and booked four rooms for £835 with overnight accommodation for guests.
“But then in the second week of September, I was told that Wigan Council would be withdrawing the lease from Contessa and therefore we wouldn’t be able to have the wedding reception.
“I must have then rung Contessa 17 times as I was trying to get hold of the director Craig Baker but I was always told he was in meetings.
“So in November I decided to park at Haigh Hall itself and wait for Mr Baker to turn up which he did.
“I had a 30 minute meeting with him but didn’t get a lot out of it.
“I’ve really been hitting a brick wall.”
Mr Ashton then said he received an email from Contessa offering him the choices of either a full refund, moving the wedding reception to the Wirral, or “to hold tight and hope for the best.”
He said: “I just couldn’t believe this but of course I want a full refund.
“It’s disgraceful the way we’ve been treated and my daughter and her partner are devastated by the whole situation.”
Mr Ashton said he has managed to find a venue elsewhere for the wedding reception which will now be at Kilhey Court in Standish, while the ceremony will be at St Wilfrid’s Church on June 13.
He added: “More money has obviously had to be put down for the new venue, I’m lucky with the money I’ve got but lots of people aren’t in the financial position I am, and wouldn’t be able to afford to do so without a deposit they’re owed.
“I’d be interested to know how many other people who have booked weddings and functions have been affected.”
Wigan Council’s decision to terminate the lease with Haigh Hall’s bosses Contessa Hotels was taken after the firm failed to honour its terms.
The Wirral-based company converted the historic building into a luxury boutique hotel after taking it over in 2016.
Plans for the £6 million restoration of the hall were initially welcomed, but problems soon emerged when access to the building was restricted.
Following a series of complaints from furious residents, Wigan Council ordered the firm to provide unrestricted routes around the building, which is in the heart of Haigh Woodland Park.
Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access For All have campaigned extensively about the issues, and criticised Contessa Hotels for failing to engaging with the community.
A Wigan Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that a break notice has been served on the tenant of Haigh Hall, seeking to terminate the lease of the Hall.
“This is due to a failure to comply with terms of the lease.”
But although being given notice to quit late last year it is believed the hall is still occupied.
Despite several attempts the Wigan Observer was unable to contact Mr Baker or Contessa Hotels.
On each occasion someone answered the phone we were told Mr Baker was in a meeting and unavailable to speak to us.