Fury as Haigh Hall gates are locked again

Residents say they have found the way barred between 6pm and 7.30pm on the two most recent occasions.
Residents say they have found the way barred between 6pm and 7.30pm on the two most recent occasions.

The hotel firm at Haigh Hall is under fire after a set of gates at the centre of a massive access row were locked in defiance of council instructions.

The entrance to the main public route beside the grade-II listed building has been barred on several occasions in the last few days.

This is in direct contravention of an order by Wigan Council in late February that Contessa had to provide unrestricted access to the country park at that point.

However, pictures taken and shared on social media by the campaigners show the pedestrian access adjacent to the gates which Contessa was ordered to provide are not there.

Campaigners who spent months arguing the hotel should not be able to lock the gates have expressed their unhappiness at what is going on and Wigan Council has also stressed it is taking the matter extremely seriously.

Penny McGinty, assistant director for corporate contracts and assets at the local authority, said: “We did instruct the hotel to create pedestrian access so that people can access the park at all times and Contessa agreed to do this.

“We would like to reassure people that we are taking these concerns very seriously and following the gates being locked and the roll fencing, we will follow this up with the hotel again.”

A spokesperson for the campaign group Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access For All said: “We are disappointed to see that within a month of being ordered by the council to maintain our unrestricted access and create a pedestrian gate Contessa Hotels has resorted to locking us out once again.

“We’ve raised this with the council and hope to be able to resolve this to the benefit of all involved very soon.”

Accounts on social media suggest the gates have been locked on three occasions within the past week: Last Tuesday (March 26), last Friday evening and then again on Monday night.

Residents say they have found the way barred between 6pm and 7.30pm on the two most recent occasions.

The campaign group is asking anyone who finds themselves unable to access the park along that route to submit an official complaint form to the town hall.

Wigan Council had instructed Contessa to provide public access at all times following huge complaints from the public.

The town hall said it was vital cyclists, wheelchair users and families with prams could all access the grounds around Haigh Hall.

Currently that does not appear the case as pictures on social media show the only way through at that location is where a picket fence has been slightly flattened and walkers can climb over it.

The campaign group is continuing to collect signatures from Wiganers unhappy about the situation at the hall and says it is now just a few hundred names of the 5,000 it needs on the petition to get the matter debated at a council meeting.

For more information search for Friends of Haigh Hall Heritage and Open Access For All on Facebook.