2020: General Discussion

Status
This topic has been locked. No further replies can be posted.

Funcone

TS Member
I’ve had a bit of fun poking fun at Merlin, but there’s clearly a serious issue about the UK theme park industry from how disunited it is. Here’s the website for the trade association for the UK theme park industry:
https://www.balppa.org/

There’s nothing on the news page about coronavirus, but there is a page you can log into if you’re a member for news about coronavirus:
https://www.balppa.org/about_balppa/safety-bulletins-2/

I don’t actually know what advice BALPPA are giving out to their members, but the way it’s being handled by the parks seems disjointed. Perhaps BALPPA are advising parks to stay open and some parks are ignoring the advice. Or perhaps they’ve advised parks to close. Or maybe they’ve just posted very general stuff taken from news sites. I’ll come back to coronavirus, but let’s take a quick look at how the theme park industry self regulates.

The theme park industry has always been largely self-regulating, but this has become more significant over time. The trouble is that there might be a public outcry over something like The Smiler accident, but generally health and safety isn’t popular. A lot of people will talk about safety gone made, red tape, paperwork, jobsworths, common sense etc. If you’re a government and you want to make cutbacks, the HSE is a good place to start without there being much public backlash. Most people would rather see the government cut back on safety inspectors than doctors, teachers of police officers. The HSE was already struggling before austerity, but since 2010 the government has cut the HSE’s budget by 45% and plans further cuts reducing the HSE to a symbolic rump. If you Google the HSE you start to realise how ineffectual it’s become. Here’s one article on the issue.

http://www.hazards.org/safetypimp/buyme.htm

You can’t take an organisation that’s struggling to cope and cut its budget by 45% without major repercussions. Although the HSE has been involved with the accidents at Alton Towers, Drayton Manor and M&Ds, elsewhere safety has been left almost entirely to the industry to self-regulate.

Now, I don’t want to start a panic against theme parks. Most of the time theme parks do take safety very seriously and The Smiler and Splash Canyon accidents have shown how damaging to a business an accident can be. Nonetheless, I do think that behind the scenes there are major problems with the way safety’s managed by the UK theme parks and the withdrawal of the HSE. Most of the time the public would be none the wiser, but with the disjointed response to coronavirus, I do think we’re seeing some of these issues bubbling up to the surface.

I do accept the coronavirus isn’t typical of the problems facing the industry and lots of businesses have been caught off guard. Things have escalated faster than most of us expected and the future is unpredictable. BALPPA aren’t a scientific or medical authority, and there probably are other issues they’re better placed to advise on. The decisions around coronavirus are particularly difficult when you look at the financial implications and the safety implications. Parks are being asked to make major decisions about their future on the spur of the moment.

Despite my sympathy for everyone, I do think this is turning into a bit of a farce. You’d have thought the industry would have got together and made a united decision like others have. It certainly wouldn’t be fair to judge self-regulation on this one issue and my concerns are based on a much bigger set of problems most people wouldn’t know about unless they worked in the industry. But what we’re seeing here is a public example of how self-regulation can or can’t work.

I’m not suggesting that the HSE would have ever told theme parks to close or not in a pandemic. What I’m suggesting is that we’re relying on theme parks to self-regulate, largely through BALPPA. It seems very difficult to get the UK theme parks to agree on anything in regards to safety, and as a result parks have ended up doing their own thing. Because coronavirus is so high profile we’re all seeing it. But it happens with lots of other things that you probably wouldn’t notice if you were a regular enthusiast.
 
Last edited:

jon81uk

TS Member
I’ve had a bit of fun poking fun at Merlin, but there’s clearly a serious issue about the UK theme park industry from how disunited it is. Here’s the website for the trade association for the UK theme park industry:
https://www.balppa.org/

There’s nothing on the news page about coronavirus, but there is a page you can log into if you’re a member for news about coronavirus:
https://www.balppa.org/about_balppa/safety-bulletins-2/

I don’t actually know what advice BALPPA are giving out to their members, but the way it’s being handled by the parks seems disjointed. Perhaps BALPPA are advising parks to stay open and some parks are ignoring the advice. Or perhaps they’ve advised parks to close. Or maybe they’ve just posted very general stuff taken from news sites. I’ll come back to coronavirus, but let’s take a quick look at how the theme park industry self regulates.

The theme park industry has always been largely self-regulating, but this has become more significant over time. The trouble is that there might be a public outcry over something like The Smiler accident, but generally health and safety isn’t popular. A lot of people will talk about safety gone made, red tape, paperwork, jobsworths, common sense etc. If you’re a government and you want to make cutbacks, the HSE is a good place to start without there being much public backlash. Most people would rather see the government cut back on safety inspectors than doctors, teachers of police officers. The HSE was already struggling before austerity, but since 2010 the government has cut the HSE’s budget by 45% and plans further cuts reducing the HSE to a symbolic rump. If you Google the HSE you start to realise how ineffectual it’s become. Here’s one article on the issue.

http://www.hazards.org/safetypimp/buyme.htm

You can’t take an organisation that’s struggling to cope and cut its budget by 45% without major repercussions. Although the HSE has been involved with the accidents at Alton Towers, Drayton Manor and M&Ds, elsewhere safety has been left almost entirely to the industry to self-regulate.

Now, I don’t want to start a panic against theme parks. Most of the time theme parks do take safety very seriously and The Smiler and Splash Canyon accidents have shown how damaging to a business an accident can be. Nonetheless, I do think that behind the scenes there are major problems with the way safety’s managed by the UK theme parks and the withdrawal of the HSE. Most of the time the public would be none the wiser, but with the disjointed response to coronavirus, I do think we’re seeing some of these issues bubbling up to the surface.

I do accept the coronavirus isn’t typical of the problems facing the industry and lots of businesses have been caught off guard. Things have escalated faster than most of us expected and the future is unpredictable. BALPPA aren’t a scientific or medical authority, and there probably are other issues they’re better placed to advise on. The decisions around coronavirus are particularly difficult when you look at the financial implications and the safety implications. Parks are being asked to make major decisions about their future on the spur of the moment.

Despite my sympathy for everyone, I do think this is turning into a bit of a farce. You’d have thought the industry would have got together and made a united decision like others have. It certainly wouldn’t be fair to judge self-regulation on this one issue and my concerns are based on a much bigger set of problems most people wouldn’t know about unless they worked in the industry. But what we’re seeing here is a public example of how self-regulation can or can’t work.

I’m not suggesting that the HSE would have ever told theme parks to close or not in a pandemic. What I’m suggesting is that we’re relying on theme parks to self-regulate, largely through BALPPA. It seems very difficult to get the UK theme parks to agree on anything in regards to safety, and as a result parks have ended up doing their own thing. Because coronavirus is so high profile we’re all seeing it. But it happens with lots of other things that you probably wouldn’t notice if you were a regular enthusiast.

I think you are over-thinking this. Government advice is that people should avoid close proximity and large gathering such as the pub or theatre. Until the government force pubs and entertainment venues to close down some will remain open its that simple. Most indoor things have closed and many places have gone to take out only.
 

ThisGuy

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Forbidden Sweep
My prediction is that they will try to open up to the very last minute, before realising that only three staff members actually turned up to work.
 

Islander

TS Member
My prediction is that they will try to open up to the very last minute, before realising that only three staff members actually turned up to work.
I don’t think that’s at all likely, we’re talking about staff who are scared stiff that their income is going to dry up. Their hours will already no doubt have been slashed to bare-bones as the parks try and down-staff to the extreme to save money; if they’re lucky enough to still have some shifts (and are able to work of course), they’ll be there. Repercussions from not turning up would be too big.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Mikw

TS Member
With a rmoured lockdown of London coming in the next few days (according to The Telegraph - and later to spread elsewhere) It wouldn't be a major suprise if this weekend's opening at Alton (assuming it goes ahead) may be the last time anyone can visit this season.
 

Kraken27

TS Member
If we skip back to 2001 and the Foot & Mouth disease outbreak, Towers - admittedly under different ownership - still opened as planned (after having a lot of the farmyard animals killed). All they did was put in a disinfectant "dip" that all arriving vehicles had to drive through just inside the main vehicle entrance.

Foot & Mouth disease generally has zero affect on humans. Coronavirus is clearly quite the opposite.

I do agree that until the government order a lockdown, Merlin will seek to open it's resort theme parks as planned. I suspect they will get their fingers very burned when they look at the gate figures vs the operating costs. They will be bleeding money.
 

themeparkfan

TS Member
OK So are you guys going to write to JD Weatherspoons to tell them how inconsiderate they are putting staff and any public visitors at risk?? They put people at close proximity indoors and no one seems to care?? At least merlin are closing their indoor attractions and taking some responsibility whereas weatherspoons are NOT!
 

Ryan

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Hex
OK So are you guys going to write to JD Weatherspoons to tell them how inconsiderate they are putting staff and any public visitors at risk?? They put people at close proximity indoors and no one seems to care?? At least merlin are closing their indoor attractions and taking some responsibility whereas weatherspoons are NOT!

Who's writing letters? Why is talking about a particular venue on a site and thread dedicated to that venue being seen as unfair targeting?

We aren't here to talk about Spoons, or Tesco. But like someone else said, I'm sure people's view on Merlin's actions are the same views they have on Wetherspoons. Or any other non essential public venue opening when people are explicitly being told not to frequent them.

Closing indoor attractions is a sensible precaution, but that doesn't stop the fact that opening their theme parks, which feature plenty of confined indoor space, isn't sensible. What difference is there between visiting Sea Life and queuing for Hex, Thirteen, The Smiler, and Gangsta Granny? Greater distance between guests at Sea Life than all the others? That makes no sense. If we're applauding the closure of other attractions, it's entirely normal to also be denouncing the opening of theme parks.
 

Squiggs

TS Team
OK So are you guys going to write to JD Weatherspoons to tell them how inconsiderate they are putting staff and any public visitors at risk?? They put people at close proximity indoors and no one seems to care?? At least merlin are closing their indoor attractions and taking some responsibility whereas weatherspoons are NOT!

In short, yes.... yes people are aiming exactly the same complaints at Wetherspoons.

It is not a competition as to which business has had the worst response to the situation we are in - the entire point here is that as a nation we need to limit social interactions, so it doesn't really matter which business we're talking about if they are encouraging unnecessary gathering of people then they are causing a problem.
 

SuperMuscleMan

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Colossus
Shouldn't the National Trust be lambasted as much as Alton/Merlin for opening their gardens? What's the difference between walking around Alton's grounds (and staying a safe distance from people, avoiding rides, shops, restaurants if you wanted) and walking around National Trust gardens? Oh yeah, not owned by Merlin! :p


The national trust owns 1/4 of the country's coastline! I highly doubht they can close that. Keeping fit and being in the parklands and large gardens will play a huge part for keeping the mental and fitness of many safe.
 

RobH

TS Member
Something to note:

When booking a short break, there is now a prominent "Protect booking for £24.95" stamp over every hotel option...

Screenshot-2020-03-19-at-09-05-19.png


This is something has only just shown up and wasn't like this for the rest of the week. I guess it's a 'hassle-free' way to cancel should they not open, rather than nagging down the phone or via email to receive a refund/change dates. In short, another way for them to make money.

I'm aware there has always been an option to add a cancelation option which was more hidden, but making it more prominent now seems a bit...weird?

I have a booking for the 1-4th April at splash and am currently debating phoning to cancel or just waiting to see what happens...
 

Leigh

TS Member
Something to note:

When booking a short break, there is now a prominent "Protect booking for £24.95" stamp over every hotel option...

This is something has only just shown up and wasn't like this for the rest of the week. I guess it's a 'hassle-free' way to cancel should they not open, rather than nagging down the phone or via email to receive a refund/change dates. In short, another way for them to make money.

I'm aware there has always been an option to add a cancelation option which was more hidden, but making it more prominent now seems a bit...weird?

I don't think it's weird at all. I think it's very Merlin.
 

Ethan

TS Member
As bad as what's going on is, I hate myself for just wanting to get back on park to ride nemmy, wicker and smiler. I know it's not important at the moment but I just can't help myself
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Something to note:

When booking a short break, there is now a prominent "Protect booking for £24.95" stamp over every hotel option...

Screenshot-2020-03-19-at-09-05-19.png


This is something has only just shown up and wasn't like this for the rest of the week. I guess it's a 'hassle-free' way to cancel should they not open, rather than nagging down the phone or via email to receive a refund/change dates. In short, another way for them to make money.

I'm aware there has always been an option to add a cancelation option which was more hidden, but making it more prominent now seems a bit...weird?

I have a booking for the 1-4th April at splash and am currently debating phoning to cancel or just waiting to see what happens...

Most standard travel insureance wouldn't cover anything booked from now on anyway as the government already advised against travel.
 

Kraken27

TS Member
Most standard travel insureance wouldn't cover anything booked from now on anyway as the government already advised against travel.

There are often also exclusions on many travel insurance policies for anything that happens in your home country, i.e. the UK. Certainly I know I'm not covered for any medical expenses in the UK on my annual travel insurance policy.

I know the likes of Center Parcs (& clearly Merlin now too) have quite a lucrative sideline on selling add-on insurance to cover your break in the UK. I dread to think of the hit Center Parcs are going to take when they close all their villages tomorrow for 4 weeks (at the moment). All those double priced Easter holiday breaks to refund, before the up-sell activity losses.

I do agree it's a bit irresponsible of the likes of Wetherspoons to keep all it's pubs open until ordered to close - but they are a public company with shareholders to satisfy... hold on, we've had that on here before (public company with shareholders to satisfy)!
 
Status
This topic has been locked. No further replies can be posted.
Top