A debate took place in the House of Commons on Wednesday regarding the organisational and structural failings related to the Summerland fire tragedy in August 1973.
The fire, which began in an kiosk before falling onto the outer wall of the building and setting it alight, claimed the lives of 50 people in the deadliest on land fire the island has seen since the Second World War.
The debate was raised in Parliament by Justin Madders MP, the Labour representative for Ellesmere Port and Neston. A constituent’s sister, mother and father all lost their lives in the disaster while on holiday in the Isle of Man.
The topics raised during the debate was the negligence of the architects who constructed the building, the slow response of the emergency alarm system and the lack of a proper memorial on the island.
Commenting on the failures, Mr Madders said: ‘The materials that were included in the architects’ plans were known to be a fire risk, but these materials were used anyway, either through negligence or deception.
‘The architects applied galbestos in the construction, a plastic-coated metal cladding with limited fire resistance, as opposed to reinforced concrete.
‘To add to this, there had been unapproved changes to the fire alarm system, meaning there was a delay to the sounding of the alarm inside the building and to the emergency services being alerted.’
Mr Madders also expressed his disappointment at the ‘appalling’ lack of a proper Summerland memorial on the island, saying: ‘My constituent describes the memorial for the disaster as insignificant and insulting, comparing it to a stone from a garden centre. Only her families name is on this memorial due to them paying for it which is, quite frankly, appalling.
‘It must be questioned why the loss of 50 people did not warrant a proper memorial that may offer a space for recollection and solace.’
Jason McCartney MP continued the debate, whose constituent Jackie Hallam escaped the fire while her mother and best friend died.
The Conservative member for Colne Valley in Lancashire said: ‘We need an apology regarding the fire safety deficiencies. We need an apology of recognition for the suffering of the survivors and we need another review of the death by misadventure verdict.’
While describing this news as positive, Mr Madders said: ‘The Chief Minister will also make a formal announcement to parliament [Tynwald] about the disaster. I want to use this debate to encourage him to formally write on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, indicating his support for the apology request regarding the Summerland fire.’