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Bradford fire: Families of Valley Parade victims deserve respect of new inquiry
At the very least it was catastrophically unfortunate that having survived for 77 years and the smoking of thousands of fags, the Valley Parade stand couldn’t withstand another 45 minutes of football. And if the stand was deemed unworthy of insurance cover, was it not a disgrace that supporters were permitted to use it?
....monetary gain of the fire: he estimates that as well as the £988,000 received from “insurance proceeds and associated grants”, the local authority gave £1.46 million to the club.
Having decided to collect the money and donate it as a lump sum to the fire disaster fund, Marsden was shocked to discover that the appeal had been closed, and the organisers had told him that they didn’t want the money. In the end, the money was donated instead to the burns research unit in Bradford.
....there is also the story about the memorial service at Valley Parade, two months after the fire, when a 12-year-old Martin and his relatives pulled up at traffic lights and heard a sound they had not heard all day – laughter. “We turned to the car alongside us and saw its occupants, including Stafford Heginbotham, all laughing away,”
Other parts of the book bring in far more serious issues than the chairman’s public behaviour and it was certainly notable, visiting Hollinger in Bradford a few days ago, that he, like Fletcher, remembers Heginbotham telling Margaret Thatcher and the world’s media that the stand was due to be demolished the following day and that the steel girders were already being stored on the car park. “It was all a lie,” Fletcher writes in 56 – The Story of the Bradford Fire, quoting hard evidence from the official inquiry and identifying an aerial photograph of the cordoned-off site showing there was nothing of the kind. Hollinger, previously a groundsman at Valley Parade, brought up the exact same point. “I went up there, others went up there, and I asked people at the club, too. There wasn’t even a nail.”
The fact is that no-one — no one person — was concerned with the general safety of the premises. Mr Heginbotham told me so.
Mr Heginbotham said that any child would know that such litter was a fire hazard.
Following the sale of his shares in Bradford City A.F.C. Heginbotham converted his then home in Tong called Pastures into a hotel in late 1987. Two years later the Tong Village Hotel opened, in 1990 he sold the hotel in a shares transaction deal to Whitbread, receiving a million shares, he then moved to Jersey as a tax exile.