A wheelchair user whose car will be destroyed when a fire-damaged Luton Airport car park is demolished has called on politicians to “reassure the public” about the safety of parking facilities.
Andrew Miller, 57, from Northamptonshire, parked his automatic Citroen DS 3 in the blue badge parking zone of level one of Luton Airport’s terminal car park 2 on October 8.
Two days later, the car park was ravaged by a huge blaze while Mr Miller was in Ireland with his husband Tim Meacock, 57.
Mr Miller said Luton Airport emailed him on Friday afternoon to say the car park would be “fully demolished”, along with any cars parked on the ground to third levels.
The broadcaster, cultural consultant and disability campaigner told the PA news agency he had read the email with “great sadness”.
“It’s distressing to know that my car, which appeared to be okay, is going to be destroyed when the car park is removed,” said Mr Miller, who has a complex spinal condition.
“It’s distressing, it’s been an incredibly difficult few weeks.”
Mr Miller said he was able to settle with his insurers last week and has found a replacement car of the same model which has had hand controls added.
“I’m finally mobile again, three weeks after the fire,” he added.
But he said there were items which were “personal” and “valuable” to him left in the car which he will be unable to retrieve.
“Just immediately before we parked the car at the Luton car park, my partner and I had been attending the UK Theatre Awards in London and we had our glad rags that we left in the car because we did not need them on our trip to Ireland,” he said.
“Those are clothes that I am very sad to have lost and there are probably other items in there that I may not remember.”
He added: “I think that politicians do actually need to get involved with this as they’ve not got involved with this so far, to reassure the public about the safety of these open structure car parks.
“This is not the first time – there was a fire at Liverpool Arena in 2017 and I believe 1,000 cars were lost in that, and 1,500 or so are going to be lost in this one.
“Across these two fires, 2,500 car owners have been affected by this – their lives turned upside down and having to deal with huge financial losses.
“There is a structural issue in the designs of these car parks and legislation is not ensuring their safety in terms of adequate fire prevention measures because I think if a sprinkler system had been in place at this car park, that fire could have been put out relatively quickly and we wouldn’t all be facing the disaster that we’ve all dealt with ever since.”
Neil Thompson, operations director at London Luton Airport, said he understood the past few weeks had been “extremely challenging and difficult”.
“Regrettably, I can now confirm, that due to the extent of the structural damage, the car park will need to be fully demolished, and any cars parked on levels ground to three are not recoverable, ahead of the demolition work,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“This is consistent with our initial assessment, which has now been confirmed following a full structural report.
“The process to remove around 100 vehicles from the top deck to stabilise the structure is ongoing.”
A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “Public safety is our absolute priority – which is why we’re undertaking a major review of the fire safety guidance to the building regulations, including research on the fire resistance of car parks.”