Council seeks government funding for sprinklers

Council seeks government funding for sprinklers

CROYDON COUNCIL’s proposed sprinkler programme has sought government funding, and any lack of funds could have a ‘significant impact’ around the borough.

Your Local Guardian reported on the council’s attempts to get government funding for its proposed sprinkler programme, noting that if it had to spend its own funds, this would have a ‘significant impact on other capital work’. Last week, Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid stated in the House of Commons that no councils in England had asked him for fire safety cash, despite a number of councils having sent him letters.

However, it was then reported that Housing Minister Alok Sharma, ‘who was sitting next to Javid’ as he made his speech about the councils, ‘had actually responded to one of the councils just 24 hours earlier’. After that, Mr Javid wrote to ‘council and housing association chiefs across the country’, stating that they will have to ‘stump up the cash to fund fire safety work on tower blocks’, and should do ‘out of their existing funds’.

Croydon councillor and deputy leader Alison Butler, also cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, sent one such letter to Mr Javid to ‘confirm whether or not’ the government would ‘contribute towards Croydon’s fire sprinkler investment in the borough’s 25 tallest tower blocks’, with Croydon the first council ‘in the country to announce it will pay for and install fire sprinklers in residents’ individual flats’ in response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

Another letter was sent previously by fellow councillor Tony Newman, asking for a contribution to the estimated £10m cost of installing the sprinklers and ‘for greater borrowing powers to do any future fire safety work’. Neither letter’s requests were answered ‘directly’ in the written response from Mr Sharma, who stated that financial resources would not prevent ‘necessary’ work on fire safety in social housing, but that ‘it was up to councils to take action’.

The most recent letter from Mrs Butler stated that ‘we completely agree that there should be no hesitation in putting in place additional measures to ensure the safety of our tenants, and that is why we announced a programme to install sprinklers in all of our blocks of 10 storeys and above within days of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. We believe these works are necessary to ensure the fire safety of our housing and therefore should receive financial support from government’.

The site added that sprinklers will ‘go into individual flats’ in Croydon Council’s residential blocks, including those that are 10, 11 and 12 storeys high, and work is expected to start in October and conclude next spring.