Earlier this week, Merlin Entertainments was fined £5m over the widely publicised crash on one of its rollercoasters at Alton Towers. The crash on the ‘Smiler’ rollercoaster last June, left five people seriously injured. The US-owned, British-based company pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety rules with the Crown Court finding that the crash was not due to human error, but rather to the absence of a structured and considered system of safety.
It has been argued by many however that this fine is insufficient. For example, Nils Pratley of The Guardian suggests that chairman Sir John Sunderland and chief executive Nick Varney can no longer continue in their posts with any amount of credibility. Merlin Entertainments safety procedures were described as “woefully inadequate” by the judge, which led to a “needless accident where those injured were fortunate not to have been killed”
Despite this, Merlin Entertainments has reported a 1.3 per cent increase in revenue for the 38 weeks up to September 17th, helped by a recovery in trading at Alton Towers. However, the number of visitors to the theme park still remains below the 2014 level. Chief executive Nick Varney has reiterated that the company has “learned every lesson from what happened” and have made changes “to ensure that an accident like this cannot happen again”.