‘50 peo­ple will have to die for safety to be taken se­ri­ously’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Sounds Good -

A SE­NIOR county coun­cil­lor is fac­ing crit­i­cism af­ter claim­ing that 50 peo­ple would have to die be­fore safety on the Chan­nel Tun­nel is taken se­ri­ously.

Cllr Keith Fer­rin, the politi­cian in charge of trans­port for Kent County Coun­cil, stunned fel­low coun­cil­lors with his claim dur­ing a meet­ing.

Cllr Fer­rin told the meet­ing of KCC’s cross-party en­vi­ron­ment scru­tiny com­mit­tee: “I have to say that al­though there was an in­quiry af­ter 1996, my un­der­stand­ing is that not all the rec­om­men­da­tions were en­acted upon and I have to say that it is my view that 50 peo­ple will have to die be­fore any­body takes se­ri­ously the fire safety is­sues in the tun­nel.

“Sooner or later, while th­ese cargo shut­tles con­tinue to op­er­ate as they are, 50 peo­ple will in­evitably die. That is not a prophecy, but, in my view, an in­evitabil­ity.”

His com­ments were roundly de­nounced by sev­eral mem­bers of the com­mit­tee, who said that he was wrong to pre-judge the out­come of an of­fi­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the lat­est in­ci­dent.

But Cllr Fer­rin re­mained un­apolo­getic when chal­lenged about his views, in­sist­ing that he be­lieved the de­sign of the shut­tles re­mained a fun­da­men­tal is­sue.

Cllr Su­san Carey, who used to work for Eurotunnel, said: “It is ou­tra­geous to say that 50 peo­ple will need to die and to re­peat that. We should give Eurotunnel the op­por­tu­nity to come here and ex­plain to us what their pro­ce­dures are.

“We have to re­mem­ber the Her­ald of Free En­ter­prise and the num­ber of peo­ple killed on our roads each day and that not one per­son has been killed or se­ri­ously in­jured in ei­ther of th­ese two in­ci­dents.”

But Cllr Fer­rin re­peated his claim, telling Cllr Carey: “She should read some of the re­ports of lorry driv­ers who were in­volved in the lat­est fire.

“I say what I say in the light of what I saw 20 years ago and two se­ri­ous fires… Eurotunnel has been ex­traor­di­nar­ily lucky.”

Eurotunnel said that it would be wrong to com­ment in de­tail be­fore the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion were known but em­pha­sised that it op­er­ated within the pa­ram­e­ters set by the in­de­pen­dent safety com­mis­sion jointly ad­min­is­tered by the French and Bri­tish gov­ern­ments.

A spokesman said: “While we are wait­ing for the out­come of the French ju­di­cial in­quiry, it would be wrong to spec­u­late on ei­ther the cause of the out­come. Eurotunnel is con­fi­dent that its safety ar­range­ments do their job in sav­ing lives in the event of in­ci­dents in the tun­nel.”

Cllr Keith Fer­rin has been crit­i­cised for his re­marks

Pic­ture: Barry Good­win pd1480045

The scene at the ter­mi­nal dur­ing the tun­nel fire in Septem­ber

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