Council makes sprinkler pledge and promises to listen to Sheffield tower residents' safety fears

Cladding at Hanover tower in Broomhall is tested. Photo: Benjamin Paul/SWNS
Cladding at Hanover tower in Broomhall is tested. Photo: Benjamin Paul/SWNS
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Sheffield Council's chief executive has tried to reassure tower block residents that their concerns about fire safety will be taken on board.

John Mothersole gave an update on the investigation into the authority's 24 blocks of flats at a full council meeting yesterday.

He said there were 'fundamental' differences between the situation in Sheffield and that at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, London, where more than 80 people are presumed to have died in a fire on June 14.

But, he added, that would not lead to 'complacency' and the council had 'double and triple-checked' its buildings.

And he committed to installing sprinkler systems in all council tower buildings.

Mr Mothersole also said the council was working with the health service, education providers, housing associations and others to ensure all buildings in Sheffield were safe.

John Mothersole.

John Mothersole.

A key cause of the Grenfell fire is thought to have been flammable cladding used on the outside. Three of Sheffield's council blocks have brick cladding, while the rest are clad in metal.

Of those, one - Hanover in Broomhall - has failed the Government's safety test. Cladding is being removed, and the council is trying to establish why it was used - although Mr Mothersole said it had passed all safety tests at the time it was installed in 2012.

Building firm Lovell, which refurbished the Hanover tower, has launched its own internal investigation.

Replacing the cladding could cost around £1 million, and Mr Mothersole said the council would push the Government for funding - but would not wait for the money before starting work.

Work to replace the cladding on Hanover tower could cost up to 1 million. Benjamin Paul/SWNS

Work to replace the cladding on Hanover tower could cost up to 1 million. Benjamin Paul/SWNS

Cladding on part of Sheffield Children's Hospital has also failed the Government test.

Mr Mothersole said changes to council blocks would only be made once tenants and leaseholders had given their feedback.

And Janet Sharpe, the council's director of housing, added: "We made sure the day after Grenfell that we were out there talking to them and making sure we were providing the right level of information that they needed to be assured.

"Since then we have carried out a comprehensive programme of consultation and drop-in sessions for tenants."

Coun Jayne Dunn.

Coun Jayne Dunn.

Coun Jayne Dunn, the cabinet member responsible for housing, emphasised the importance of working swiftly with partners to ensure Sheffield tower blocks were safe.

She said the fears and anxieties of residents she had spoken to would stay with her 'for a long time', and blamed the Government's 'lack of investment in health and safety' for Grenfell.

And in a scene rarely witnessed in the council chamber, all parties voted in favour of Coun Dunn's motion on tower safety.

For more on fire safety visit www.sheffield.gov.uk.

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