Denton and Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, has launched Labour’s Make Homes Safe campaign in his role as Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, calling on the Chancellor to fund the retrofitting of sprinklers in high rise tower blocks.
In a visit to Manchester, (Thursday 9 November), Andrew Gwynne called on the Chancellor to set aside money in this year’s Budget to fund the retrofitting of sprinklers in all council and housing association tower blocks across Manchester. This would be part of a £1billion fund to ensure tower blocks across England, that are 30m (ten storeys) or higher.
Although independent research shows that sprinklers extinguish or contain fires in 99 per cent of cases, only 2 per cent of tower blocks have sprinkler systems.
The Government has so far refused to provide funding for councils to retrofit sprinklers following the Grenfell Tower Fire. Two coroners’ reports in 2013 into the high rise fires at Lakanal House and Shirley Towers recommended that sprinklers be fitted into social housing blocks.
Many councils and housing associations lack the funds to retrofit sprinklers, with the Conservatives’ having cut funding for local government by 40 per cent since 2010. A number of local authorities have said their requests for funding from the Government to retrofit sprinklers have been turned down or ignored, including Nottingham City Council, Salford Council and Conservative-controlled Westminster Council.
Andrew Gwynne MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said:
“The Conservatives are turning a blind eye to dangerous conditions in tower blocks.
“The Government say they have encouraged councils to retrofit sprinklers, after having slashed local government funding by 40 per cent since 2010, depriving councils of the funds that they need to make life saving changes.
“Sprinklers save lives. Fire safety updates in Parliament, including fitting sprinkler systems, is likely to cost over £100 million. If the Chancellor can find the funds for MPs, he must find them for social housing tenants too.”
Andrew meeting tenants, Claude and Adam as well as Dave Williams from One Manchester Housing and Councillor Nigel Murphy.