Paramedics faced locked gates on their way to injured cyclist at Haigh Hall

The gates at Haigh Hall
The gates at Haigh Hall

Ambulance chiefs have confirmed gates at Haigh Hall were locked when they responded to a 999 call, but denied there were issues getting to the patient.

Alfred Wane, 61, broke his collarbone and ribs when he fell from his bike while cycling on a gravelled path at Haigh Woodland Park on Saturday.

Other news: Police launch appeal to trace driver after man seriously hurt in hit-and-run

His concerned daughter Janine Fisher, 38, and her partner Andrew Brewer called 999, but claimed the ambulance crew could not reach them immediately.

Ms Fisher said she was told gates near Haigh Hall Hotel were locked and there was a 10-minute delay in them reaching Mr Wane, who lives in Hindley. This was apparently due to them struggling to find someone to open the gate, before the owner of a parked car blocking the road refused to remove it.

Ms Fisher, who lives in Wigan, said her father was in pain and vomiting as he waited for paramedics to arrive.

She said: “They came and were dead apologetic. They had been stuck at the top, the hotel wouldn’t open the gate and they couldn’t get through because there was a car blocking it. They asked someone to move the car and they said they refused to move the car because it was worth £55,000 and I’m not happy with that.

“The ambulance came, they were absolutely fantastic with my dad and the hospital was fantastic. He’s broken his collarbone and three ribs and cut from head to toe. He’s battered and bruised.”

But a spokesman for North West Ambulance Service said this was not the case.

She said: "The ambulance service did attend an incident at Haigh Hall on Saturday, September 14. Our ambulance crew have confirmed that the gates were opened by a member of the park staff as soon as they arrived and no issues were reported.

“We wish the gentleman a speedy recovery.”

Keith Bergman, general manager at Haigh Woodland Park, said: “As with all major events we have comprehensive management plans in place to ensure the safety of visitors to the park.

"Following procedure, when the incident was reported to us our site support member attended to ensure access into the park was clear. Our member of staff opened the gates and we are not aware of any vehicles obstructing the ambulance on its way to the incident.

"We are glad to hear the gentleman is recovering and wish him well.”

Mr Wane left Wigan Infirmary’s A&E department in the early hours of Sunday and is now recovering from his injuries.

But his daughter is concerned that something more serious could happen in future if the gates prevent the emergency services reaching someone in the park who is injured or ill.

She claims the ambulance also struggled to get back through the gates due to limited space.

Mother-of-three Ms Fisher said: “I want the gates to be removed. I don’t understand why they are locked. Obviously they don’t want the public getting there, but they should have access for emergency crews. It seems to be it’s money over health and safety. They are putting the public in jeopardy for the sake of locking up a couple of expensive cars at night and that’s not how it should be.

“What’s it going to take - for a little boy to fall out of a tree, be impaled and they can’t get to him because of someone putting money over safety?”

Ms Fisher says she is “very angry” about the situation and shared her experience on social media, where she received a lot of support.

She said she has since contacted the hotel about what happened and received an apology. She was told the gates were locked for a wedding, but she disputes this, claiming the gates are always locked.

A response to a post she wrote on the hotel's Facebook page said: "Hi Janine, we are unsure of the details behind what happened and there was a wedding on yesterday which is why they would of been locked. We apologise for any issues caused & we hope your father is ok x"

Ms Fisher plans to take the matter further by making an official complaint to Wigan Council.

She said: “I’m going to make a complaint to the council as well because the hotel are tenants. If someone was having a heart attack, it could be more serious. It’s been an accident waiting to happen.

“Luckily my dad just has broken bones, but next time it could be worse. These gates need addressing as soon as possible.”

The Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access To All group has complained for months about locked gates on the main drive and a protest walk through the park was held in June.

Read more: Haigh Hall access petition rejected for debate by Wigan Council

A spokesman from the group said: "We did raise this issue with the council months ago during our dialogue and sadly our fears became reality at the weekend.

"We are just very relieved and thankful that the gentleman is recovering and didn’t suffer worse injuries that such a delay could have been life-changing for him.

"Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles have created public access to the side of the hotel’s locked gates and we would welcome some transparency from the council regarding liability in such matters.

"We would also like confirmation from our council on when the gates at Mowpin will be finished and closed. There have been numerous problems due to those gates being open and increased traffic, including delivery vehicles which should be using the rear access but can’t due to them being locked.

"The set-up re: access and traffic at the woodland park is very worrying."

They added: “We gave the council CEO an action point at our meeting in August to review the health and safety risk assessment, clearly this doesn’t appear to have been done, or if it has, she ignored our concerns regarding access for the emergency services. The council postponed our meeting on September 9 due to ‘operational issues’, but we will be certainly raising this at our meeting on Wednesday in light of this serious incident.”

Wigan Today contacted Haigh Hall Hotel but a representative of Craig and Lisa Baker, from Contessa Hotels, said they did not want to comment on the incident.