Wigan sprinkler plans ‘could be shelved’

Wigan sprinkler plans ‘could be shelved’

THE TOWN’S plans to retrofit sprinklers in high rise blocks could be halted after tenants claimed the plans were a ‘knee-jerk reaction and unnecessary’.

Manchester Evening News reported on the ‘resident backlash’ to Wigan Town Council’s plans for retrofitting sprinklers in its high rise tower blocks. The council had said that the £2m plan would put ‘minds at rest’, but tenants claimed it was a ‘knee-jerk reaction’ and that the sprinklers were ‘unnecessary’, with the result that plans ‘could be shelved’.

After the consultation that had taken place, officers have said a final decision ‘should be deferred’ until after the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire has been completed. A letter to tenants stated: ‘As a result of residents’ responses...(a report to cabinet will recommend) we should wait until more information is available, including any government recommendations or change in legislation, before making any final decision on the installation of sprinklers.’

Of 249 residents consulted on the plans, 67% said they did not want sprinklers, but the letter added that ‘unfortunately only 35pc of residents took part in the consultation. A report on the results will be presented to the council cabinet after local elections, and a final decision ‘could potentially be some time away’.

Tenants had said they were concerned the plans were a ‘done deal’, and argued that the ‘excellent’ fire safety record for the blocks ‘backed up claims’ that the sprinklers would be ‘surplus to requirements’, with cash ‘better spent on other improvement works’, and in their view a sprinkler system ‘would cause further water ingress problems’. Its letter to tenants added that ‘we have listened to your feedback’, and noted that the report would be presented to the cabinet.

The news outlet noted that none of the town’s high rises have combustible cladding, with the council stating it had wanted to ‘make them as safe as possible so our residents are assured’.

Phil Harris, representative for the Hi-Risers group, ‘welcomed’ the decision, and told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: ‘We weren’t bothered how this came about as long as the sprinklers are not happening. We’ve got the result we wanted and now we’ll move on to the next thing. The final Grenfell report could be a long while off and its recommendations will need to be scrutinised and any resulting legislation has to then go through the parliamentary process.’