Croydon Council has today joined forces with local authorities nationwide to present a petition at Downing Street calling for significant Government funding on fire sprinklers.
Croydon was the first council post-Grenfell to begin retrofitting fire sprinklers in 26 of its tallest blocks last autumn. Costing the council £10 million from its existing housing budget, this programme is due to be completed next month.
In the 21 months since the Grenfell tragedy, councils nationwide, including Croydon and Birmingham, have requested Government financial help towards their own sprinkler retrofitting programmes but received nothing. This is despite calls for sprinklers to be retrofitted in high-rise blocks as essential fire safety measures, including from Dany Cotton, the commissioner of London Fire Brigade.
Today, Croydon’s deputy leader Councillor Alison Butler stood with counterparts from Birmingham and Sheffield councils, and local MPs Sarah Jones and Jack Dromey, on the steps of Number 10 to hand over a letter signed by 19 leaders and cabinet members from local authorities nationwide asking for Government money towards their fire sprinkler programmes. As well as the signatories who attended Downing Street today, the others are from the Greater London Authority and the councils of Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Bristol, Nottingham, Coventry, Solihull, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Sandwell.
The letter, addressed to James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, calls for funding towards both future fire sprinkler retrofitting programmes and retrospectively in areas where works had already been carried out, such as Croydon. It also states that the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee recommended in June 2018 that “the Government should make funding available to fit sprinklers into council and housing association residential buildings above 18 metres”.
“Since Grenfell the Government has promised a lot, but it’s actually councils such as Croydon that are spending millions on making people safer in tower blocks.
“It isn’t right the Government expects local councils to pay for this nationwide problem while it squeezes our budgets, so I’m pleased to be joining other councils to petition Government for funding towards our life-saving fire sprinkler programmes.
“In Croydon we’ve nearly finished retrofitting sprinklers in over 1,250 high-rise homes costing £10m that we had already allocated for other services, so it’s time for the Government to stop ignoring councils’ pleas for help and put its money where its mouth is.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services