Wigan pub hits back at critics and offers NHS workers free parking

A Wigan pub has offered free car parking for NHS workers - but hit back at critics who questioned why the move had not been made earlier.
The Cherry GardensThe Cherry Gardens
The Cherry Gardens

The Cherry Gardens Hotel, in Wigan Lane, usually charges £2.50 for people to use its car park to attend the Wigan Infirmary which it says is a "good revenue stream".

But the pub's landlord Mathew Bullen has decided to remove the charge this week as a goodwill gesture to staff working tirelessly during the coronavirus outbreak, and criticised online abuse he has received.Mr Bullen said: "The pub car park is close to the hospital and there are not enough car park spaces for NHS staff and visitors.

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"They're also building a new ward there for coronavirus patients which will mean more spaces are taken up.

"The hospital have also made it free for them, so we've decided as a goodwill gesture not to charge for parking."

However, he described online abuse the pub had received for not making the move sooner as "unacceptable."

He said: "The £2.50 we charge is our only revenue stream now the pub has shut for totally understandable reasons.

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"We were mulling over what to do and as a gesture of support, despite having bills to pay and staff to support, we've done this.

"I had a lot of abuse for not doing this sooner and I've had people phoning and messaging in saying it was disgusting and that we should be ashamed about it. This is unacceptable and people have got to see this from a business point of view also.

"We were always planning on doing something and we want to thank NHS workers for their great work by doing this."

Mr Bullen said the decision would be under review on a regular basis as the pub had to think of its finances and future and the jobs of the ten staff it employs.

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He said: "This is a goodwill gesture but we're a business with significant overheads and bills to pay and people's jobs will clearly be at risk if the pub has to close down as a result of all this.

"So the decision will be under review on a regular basis.

"We're a private car park at the end of the day and what we charge is a lot less than what the hospital normally would."

He added: "I'm all for free NHS parking permanently but that's something to take up with the NHS and government."