Belfast Telegraph

70 jobs to go at Alton Towers in shake-up after Smiler rollercoaster crash

Alton Towers is to make up 70 staff redundant following a review of the business in the aftermath of The Smiler rollercoaster crash.

The resort, which employs 800 full-time staff and an additional 1,500 seasonal workers, confirmed at-risk notices had been sent to those affected.

A spokesman for the Staffordshire theme park said the move was "part of Alton Towers' continued recovery", and the cuts would fall across all the park's departments.

It comes after park operator Merlin Attractions was fined £5 million at Stafford Crown Court in September for a "catastrophic failure" of health and safety rules over The Smiler crash in June last year.

Two teenagers - Vicky Balch, then 19, and Leah Washington, then 17 - needed leg amputations when the ride collided at 90mph with an empty carriage, 20ft (6m) above ground.

In court, a judge heard that ride engineers overrode the computer system which had correctly stopped the ride because they believed it was in error, leading to the crash.

Announcing the cuts on Monday, Alton Towers said a consultation was under way and the jobs would go ahead of the 2017 season.

The park is currently closed for this season and will reopen in March next year.

Judge Michael Chambers QC, sentencing Merlin at the court hearing in September, said the "obvious shambles of what occurred" could have been "easily avoided".

He added: "This was a needless and avoidable accident in which those injured were fortunate not to have been killed or bled to death."

The court heard that Merlin had seen a £14 million drop in revenue this year as a result of the crash in which 16 people were injured.

The Smiler reopened earlier this year.

An Alton Towers spokeswoman said: "As part of Alton Towers' continued recovery we have been looking at ways to improve our operating model.

"A detailed review of operations has been undertaken across the business to seek further efficiencies and increase flexibility.

"As a result of this review, Alton Towers Resort can confirm that it expects to make between 60-70 redundancies ahead of the 2017 season.

"Alton Towers will work closely with all those affected in order to support them through the consultation process and any subsequent requirement for alternative employment and job search activities."

She added: "This was an incredibly difficult proposal to make and it has not been taken lightly.

"However, we are committed to the long-term development of the resort and believe that this action now, together with a continuous programme of investment, will ensure its future growth, which is so vital to the local economy."