For many tower block residents it has been an anxious few weeks. I am acutely aware of this having visited and spoken with residents in all of the council’s tower blocks, and I would like to thank all residents and TARAs for their patience and understanding.
In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell disaster I took the decision that the cladding for all of our tower blocks must be independently tested. I also took the decision to bring forward this administration’s plan to make sure all of our 24 tower blocks are fitted with first-rate sprinkler systems.
Our investigation showed that the cladding for 23 of our tower blocks is completely safe but one element in Hanover Tower, in Broomhall, failed its safety test. We acted immediately to remove this cladding.
It is worth stressing that the metal cladding at Hanover is not the same type as was used at Grenfell Tower and that all of our tower blocks passed government building regulations for health and safety. It is of huge concern that, despite passing building regulations, our contractor used a different cladding specialisation than was initially intended. Clearly this is a gravely serious situation and a full investigation is under way.
Recladding Hanover will costs in the region of £5 million. Our tenant’s safety comes first and we will not let any costs get in the way of securing this. However, we cannot cover these costs without it inevitably affecting our Housing Revenue Account – which is used to build and repair Sheffield homes.
As such I have asked the Secretary of State for communities and local government, Sajid Javid MP, for financial assistance. The government’s position is so far anything but clear, they have said they want to help council’s but have yet to provide any additional funds for this. Clearly, if the government’s own test shows that there is a problem it is for the government to help resolve this. After all it is the government’s own woefully inadequate regulation which has created the situation whereby a tower block can pass building regulations only for this regulation to be found tragically unfit for purpose.
I want to assure readers that this administration will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety and confidence of Sheffield residents and we will continue to push the government for the funding we need. We simply cannot afford to pay for the failure of government regulation without it affecting services and we will do everything we can to work with the Government on this.
Coun Jayne Dunn
Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety