PM rules out government cash for sprinklers in Sheffield tower blocks

Theresa May appears to have ruled out giving councils, including Sheffield, money to fit sprinkler systems at tower blocks.

Friday, 20th October 2017, 7:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 3:12 am
Around 80 people are believed to have died in the Grenfell Tower disaster

Sheffield Council promised to install sprinklers at all its high-rises in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy this summer.

But hopes the Government might contribute to the cost of the safety work were today dealt a blow by the Prime Minister.

Clive Betts says the Government should 'share responsibility with local councils' for fire safety

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Responding to calls for assistance from a Labour MP in Nottingham during Prime Minister's Questions, she said: "There are a number of aspects that have to be looked at in relation to the safety of tower blocks.

"It is not the case that sprinklers are the only issue that needs to be looked at or addressed - nor is it the only solution to ensuring their safety.

"On expenditure by the honourable lady’s local council, it is of course up to the council to make decisions about what it wishes to do."

Her comments came after Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts this week criticised the lack of government funding for councils to carry out what he described as 'essential fire safety work'.

Clive Betts says the Government should 'share responsibility with local councils' for fire safety

"The Secretary of State has talked about extra flexibilities, probably extra borrowing, for those councils, but he has ruled out any money from the Government to help fund the work.

"Does he realise that many councils may have to defer or cancel other essential maintenance work on properties, putting the lives and health and safety of other residents at risk?

"Will he reconsider and recognise that this is a national problem, and that the Government should at least share responsibility with local councils to deal with it?"

Joe Otten, Liberal Democrat councillor for Dore and Totley branded Mrs May's latest comments an 'abject disgrace'.

"The Government must honour promises made after Grenfell and make our tower blocks safe," he said.

Sheffield Council replaced potentially dangerous cladding on one of its 24 tower blocks following the Grenfell inferno in June, which is believed to have claimed around 80 lives. The other blocks were declared safe following independent tests.

The council said sprinklers would be installed at all its tower blocks, only one of which currently has them, to provide extra reassurance to residents.