Local authorities deliver letter to Downing Street calling fully-funded retrofitting of sprinklers to tower blocks
On Tuesday (26th March), representatives from 15 local authorities across England will be joined by Shadow Housing Minister, Sarah Jones MP (Croydon Central), and Jack Dromey MP (Birmingham Erdington) to deliver a letter to 10 Downing Street calling for the Government to fully fund the retrofitting of sprinklers to tower blocks across the country.
In June last year the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee recommended that “the Government should make funding available to fit sprinklers into council and housing association-owned residential buildings above 18 metres”. While many local authorities across the country have begun the process of keeping residents in tower blocks safe, money from Government has not been forthcoming. This comes at the same time as funding from central government for councils has fallen by 40%.
The letter, co-ordinated by Cllr Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, calls on the Government to “prioritise the safety of residents living in tower blocks by funding this essential fire safety work.” Only last month, the London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton called for all tower blocks to have sprinklers installed saying “sprinklers save lives, they’re not a luxury.”
Sarah Jones MP said: “Sprinklers save lives. The Government pledged after Grenfell to do “whatever it takes” to keep people safe. But every single council which has asked for funding help to install sprinklers has been refused by ministers. In London, Labour research revealed that just 4% of tall council blocks currently have sprinklers. The government must step up.”
Jack Dromey MP said: “With the Government engulfed in chaos and confusion, vital real domestic issues are falling by the wayside. There are 213 tower blocks in Birmingham with over 10,000 households, their lives are being put at risk by a Government which won’t take vital action on the retrofitting of sprinklers. They must act immediately to honour the pledge made in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy to ensure all tenants in tower blocks can live in safety.”