18 December 2018
Calls to improve fire safety Southend, Essex tower blocks have been dismissed, despite the concern of local councillors.
Councillors Matt Dent and Cheryl Nevin noted holes in fire doors in two 12-storey tower blocks and ‘deficiencies’ with the fire safety arrangements.
Members have called for sprinkler systems and improved fire safety measures, particularly those above 10 storeys, which the fire service does not have the equipment to reach.
However, deputy leader James Courtenay said they would wait for a report from fire safety experts and would not be taking any action yet.
Instead, he urged the council to conduct safety assessments, which would see accredited fire safety engineers conducting detailed investigations into the risks in each building.
Mr Courtenay said: “[Changes] are undertaken when a new landlord takes over a block of flats, the history of works carried out is unknown and there is a reason to suspect serious risk to residents in their own flat and in a neighbour’s flat.
“We have not recently taken over these flats, they been under Southend Council’s control and South Essex Homes control since before I was born, and we do know the history of the works.”
He continued, “However, that is not to suggest this council does not take fire safety seriously, we do.
“There are different levels of fire assessments that need to be undertaken and we work with Essex fire service who also review the inspections we’ve made and have looked at our buildings.
“Since Grenfell, the amount of capital expenditure accelerated, and additional work has taken place to ensure our tall buildings are looked after as best we can.”