NEW rules could see sprinklers added in historic hotels in the wake of a double death on Loch Lomond.

The 'preventable' deaths of Simon Midgley and his partner Richard Dyson at the high-end Cameron House Hotel in 2017 led to criminal convictions for the venue and a night-porter, and a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI).

That recommended looking at building regulations, leading to the Scottish Government setting up a short-life working group.

And that has now lurched into an expert working group to review "the mandating of automatic fire suppression systems where historic buildings are being converted into hotels”.

But the membership of the group won't even be confirmed until the end of December this year.

And the area's MSP, Jackie Baillie, was critical of the slow pace to consider changes.

The Cameron House blaze was caused by ash from an open fire put in a carrier bag next to newspapers in a cupboard.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Richard Dyson and Simon Midgley died in the blaze on December 18, 2017

A lack of sprinklers and voids in the walls helped the fire and deadly smoke spread quickly.

Dumbarton constituency MSP Ms Baillie praised Simon's mum, Jane, who has fought for the FAI and then for improvements.

But Ms Baillie said: “Lessons have to be learned from the tragic fire at Cameron House. Both the court case and the FAI have highlighted that this incident, tragically, was entirely avoidable.

"It is almost six years since the fire and progress has been far too slow to get to this point.

“While these recommendations are welcome I am concerned they do not go far enough to prevent an incident like this happening again.

“Jane has fought tooth and nail for action to be taken and she deserves the courtesy of being told the outcome of a group specifically set up to do that before this is made public.

“This followed poor communications throughout the process which has meant that Jane has felt let down. That is entirely regrettable.”

Jane Midgley said: “This has all taken too long and I feel very let down that the Scottish Government didn’t have the courtesy to do what they said they would and send me a copy of the publication in advance.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

“Myself, the boys, their friends and family have already been let down by the Crown Office who had promised to be in regular contact with me but failed to keep me updated. The whole system has added to my grief.

“All I want is justice for Simon and Richard and to know that everything is being done to prevent something like this happening again.

"I think I deserve that after almost six years of fighting for answers and action.”

In the final report from the short-life working group – which brought together the Government, tourism bodies, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and others – the Government stressed its “thoughts remain with the families of Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson”.

The report added added: “This report and the changes being made are a consequence of the families’ work to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.”

As well as setting up the new expert working group, ministers will amend guidance in technical handbooks on building standards to “promote the use of automatic fire suppression systems for such conversions to mitigate risks”.

This change will be made this year, the report said.

In addition, from the end of October 2023, the Scottish Government must be notified of future conversions of historic buildings which are to be used as hotel accommodation.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

This will allow ministers to monitor applications and provide advice to local authority building standards, the report explained.

The Scottish Government will also work with organisations including the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Local Authority Building Standards Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland to promote “key fire safety messages” making clear the dangers associated with historic construction techniques and how these can result in fire spreading in hidden voids in a building.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government expresses its deepest condolences again to the families of Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson, who lost their lives as a result of the devastating fire at Cameron House.

“We will work at pace to deliver the recommendations of the working group.

“An expert group will be formed to address long-term measures on fire suppression and hidden voids and cavities, in the interim we will put into place measures to raise awareness of risk and to monitor relevant conversions of historic buildings to hotels.”