Alton Towers refused reduction in business rates

The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers

Alton Towers operator Merlin Entertainments has lost a claim to reduce business rates following the 2015 Smiler accident.

Representatives for the Staffordshire theme park claimed that its £4 million business rates were last reviewed two months before the crash, which seriously injured five people.

The park’s visitor numbers have fallen significantly as a result, Merlin claimed.

The company compared the public’s reaction to thrill rides after the accident to concerns over flying following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

A spokesperson for the Merlin said: “Under advisement following a decline in trading we requested these rates be reassessed.”

Gary Garland, president of the Valuation Tribunal Service said that there was “no doubt” that attendances reduced following the incident.

“However what was not known is how much of that was down to a change in attitude of members of the public to thrill rides, the weather, better alternatives, pricing policy, the possible lack of new appealing rides or a lack of confidence in the site owners as opposed to the park or thrill rides,” he said.

He added that the tribunal, which sat in London last month, had received no evidence that thrill rides at smaller parks had suffered a similar fall in visitor numbers.