Surge in support for Summerland petition

Tina Brennen on the Summerland site with her petition to turn it into a memorial garden for the victims of the fire

Tina Brennen on the Summerland site with her petition to turn it into a memorial garden for the victims of the fire

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Residents from the North-West of England are adding their names to a petition calling for the Manx government to stop the sale of the Summerland site and instead turn it into commemorative gardens.

The petition, launched by Tina Brennen of Glen Vine, has seen a surge in signatures since it was featured in the Liverpool Echo last week.

And before she presents it to Infrastructure Minister David Cretney on November 1, she hopes to spread the message further in the North-West.

More than 200 people have signed the online petition, and Mrs Brennen said paper versions – being distributed across the island – were proving even more popular.

A woman from Warrington was in the leisure complex the night before the devastating fire 40 years ago. On the petition form, she said she begged her parents to take her again the following night.

‘They refused thankfully,’ she said.

‘I was five years old but it has remained in my heart ever since and I believe the Isle of Man should keep the land as a memorial to all those people who lost their lives so tragically.’

A Merseyside woman took her daughter to Summerland the night before the fire and witnessed the aftermath.

She said: ‘I sincerely believe the victims deserve a permanent and dignified memorial on the site where they tragically lost their lives. It should be retained for this purpose alone.’

The Cotter family from Liverpool signed the petition, describing themselves as ‘a family of lucky ones’.

Meanwhile, David Stevenson, of Utrecht, the Netherlands, was living with his parents on Douglas Head when he saw the first plumes of smoke ‘and then 20 minutes later those unbelievable high flames and the seemingly constant wail of emergency service alarms’.

He said: ‘It was truly a traumatic event for all who witnessed this disaster. Such a nightmare must be given a place to rest. I consider it highly inappropriate and a sign of disrespect to all victims to develop the site.’

Chief Minister Allan Bell has said the Department of Infrastructure received a number of expressions of interest in the site and that discussions are taking place with developers. Any decision would require Tynwald approval.

Anyone interested in distributing paper copies of the petition should call Tina on 424806.

Sign the petition at www.gopetition.com/petitions/summerland-for-commemorative-gardens.html

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