Sheffield tower blocks still popular despite Grenfell

Part of the cladding at Hanover Way tower block is being removed and replaced
Part of the cladding at Hanover Way tower block is being removed and replaced
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Tower blocks in Sheffield are still a popular place to live despite the horrific blaze at Grenfell in London.

Coun Jim Steinke, Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, says a lot of people still enjoy high-rise living and the council is ensuring tower blocks remain safe.

He was questioned at a full council meeting about the rights of disabled tenants by a member of the public. The issue was raised after a grieving daughter told the Grenfell inquiry in London that her disabled mother, who lived on the 18th floor, was deprived of her “human right to escape”.

Coun Steinke said it wasn’t for Sheffield Council to tell people where to live and the authority was doing everything it could to make tower blocks safe.

He said: “It was incredibly tragic what happened at Grenfell and the issue is being investigated in terms of how that can be avoided in the future. We are still digesting the Grenfell inquiry.

“In Sheffield we are still advising people to stay in their flats until we are told otherwise by the Government or South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. This has been extensive fire protection work in flats in Sheffield and they are safe as can be. All Sheffield tower blocks will get sprinklers.

“It’s not for us to prohibit people from living in tower blocks on the basis of disability. We need to recognise that, in terms of the future of tower blocks, people do like living in them including people on the highest floors with disabilities. The important thing is people feel safe.”

Over the next seven months, Hanover Tower will be fitted with new fire-resistant cladding. Of the 24 tower blocks owned by the council, a single element of the cladding system at Hanover failed new fire tests.

Solid aluminium cladding with mineral wool insulation will be installed and the design of cladding will be checked by a third-party accredited fire engineer.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry will examine the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire on June 14 last year. It will make recommendations and publish a full public report which be sent to Parliament.