Marooned: Holidaymaker is locked in on island

Peasholm Park where Mike Simpson was locked in, and below, Mr Simpson on holiday with his wife in Scarborough. Picture by Richard Ponter 133415a
Peasholm Park where Mike Simpson was locked in, and below, Mr Simpson on holiday with his wife in Scarborough. Picture by Richard Ponter 133415a

A tourist has accused Scarborough Council of “negligence” after he became marooned on Peasholm Park Island when park staff locked him in.

Castaway Mike Simpson became trapped in the Chinese Garden, after security staff failed to spot him reading his book on a bench,

Mike Simpson with wife Hillary, on holiday in Scarborough

Mike Simpson with wife Hillary, on holiday in Scarborough

After routine security checks, they padlocked the gates for the night.

Red-faced council bosses have now apologised to the father, from Leicester, and have vowed to address the series of “shortcomings” at the award-winning park which left him alone and stranded.

“There should be a notice on the bridge gates, stating what time they will be locked, and the council employee who locks them should check that there is nobody on the island before doing so.

“Clearly the council has been negligent her” said Mr Simpson, who said the incident had been “distressing”.

Fenced in, he managed to escape from the beauty spot without taking a dip in the surrounding lake - by clambering over a tree and then a fence.

Thinking his ordeal was over, he made his way back to the guest house where he was staying.

But unbeknown to him, the fence he had scaled had been doused in anti-theft paint.

“I woke up, and there were footprints everywhere I looked,” said the guest house owner, who has asked not to be named.

“I spent the full morning frantically trying to get hold of a cleaner.”

“Thankfully, one of the other guests had the kit as they’d been working on building the new Sainsbury’s, but it took them a full morning to clean it up.”

As well as nearly ruining the guest house carpet, the anti-theft paint also ruined his favourite shorts.

And Mr Simpson added: “Had I known the paint was there, I would have taken the swimming option.”

On his return home after his holiday in Scarborough with wife Hillary, and nine-year-old son Thomas, he fired off a complaint to Scarborough Council.

He said he was seeking neither damages or reparation, but called on the authority to implement security and safety changes at the park.

He asked the council to install a notice on the gates warning of the anti-vandal paint, as well as providing an emergency number for anybody who endures a similar plight.

The council eventually replied after The Scarborough News highlighted his concerns, and has since offered its “sincere apologies” to Mr Simpson for the “distress and inconvenience” caused by his ordeal.

And the authority has vowed to implement a serious of changes at the park, recently voted the best in the country outside of London, following Mr Simpson’s “unfortunate experience”.

A spokesperson for the authority added: “With regards to our operating procedures in the park, there isn’t a sign in place indicating a specific time the island closes because closure takes place around dusk, which of course varies throughout the year depending on the length of daylight hours.

“Daily practice is that our security guard checks the island for any remaining visitors before locking the gate.

“We can confirm that he did conduct a check on the evening Mr Simpson visited the island but we are unsure how he missed him.

“Regardless of what may or may not have happened, Mr Simpson’s unfortunate experience has highlighted a number of shortcomings with our procedures, which we are currently in the process of addressing to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“We have ordered a new sign to fit to the back of the gate, which will have on it a 24 hour emergency phone number to call.

“We are also improving our CCTV provision in the park.

“However it is our ultimate aim to ensure that these two initiatives only have to be used as a last resort and that a full review of how we check the island before closure will allow us to implement improvements that will prevent anyone from being missed again.”

Mr Simpson said that he’s “happy” with the council’s response, and has vowed not to let the incident deter him from visiting the town in the future.

He added that as part of the council’s apology, it’s offered him a high street voucher for £50.

“It will pay for a new pair of shorts,” he said.