Council doorsteps Downing Street over sprinkler funding

One council stood for all, delivering a letter urging PM to pump funding into retrofitting.

Fire Safety Sprinkler

Birmingham City Council has door-stepped 10 Downing Street, urging the PM to open up funding that retrofits sprinklers into tower blocks.

Birmingham is the lead authority for the retrofit campaign backed by local authorities across England.

The council’s cabinet member for Homes and Neighbourhoods Cllr Sharon Thompson delivered the letter to Downing Street, along with Joan Goodwin, chair of the City Housing Liaison Board for Birmingham.

That letter wasn’t just a Birmingham thing. Among “those undersigned” were a London deputy Mayor and top-tier representatives from eight core cities.

All were calling on government to fund the installation of sprinklers into all council and housing association-owned residential buildings above 18 metres.

In the two years since the Grenfell disaster, the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group, National Fire Chiefs Council, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Fire Brigades Union, the Association of British Insurers, the Fire Protection Association, London Fire Brigade and the Fire Sector Federation have all wanted retrofitting.

Despite the extent and range of support, government has so far made no related funding available.

Instead, Birmingham City Council alone has committed to spending over £54m in three years on fire safety in its 213 tower blocks.

“However, in a time of austerity, when local authorities across the country are and having budgets cut and are need to make some really tough financial choices, we need government to work with us and enable the recommendations put forward by experts to be implemented for the safety of citizens across the country,” said Cllr Thompson.

Cllr Alison Butler, Croydon Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, said: “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.”

Letter signatories:

Cllr Ian Ward – Leader of Birmingham City Council

Cllr Sharon Thompson – Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods Birmingham City Council

Cllr Alison Butler – Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Homes & Gateway Services, Croydon Council

Dr Fiona Twycross AM – Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience, Greater London Authority

Cllr Judith Blake CBE – Leader of Leeds City Council

Cllr Nick Forbes – Leader of Newcastle City Council

Cllr Joyce McCarty – Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Housing Newcastle City Council

Cllr Paul Smith – Cabinet Member for Housing, Bristol City Council

Cllr Linda Woodings – Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing and Heritage, Nottingham City Council

Cllr Jon Collins – Leader – Nottingham City Council

Cllr Jim Steinke – Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, Sheffield City Council

Cllr Joe Anderson, OBE – Mayor of Liverpool City Council

Cllr Suzanne Richards – Executive Member for Housing & Regeneration, Manchester City Council

Cllr Tony Dicicco – Cabinet Member – Environment & Housing, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council

Cllr Peter Bilson – Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, City of Wolverhampton Council

Cllr Qadar Zada – Leader of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

Cllr Keiran Casey – Cabinet Member for Housing, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

Cllr Ed Ruane – Cabinet Member for Housing & Communities, Coventry City Council

Cllr Kerrie Carmichael – Cabinet Member for Housing, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

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