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South Tyneside tower block residents welcome £1.4million fire safety plan

Durham Court
Durham Court

Residents and councillors have welcomed a £1.4m windfall that will pay for better protection for South Tyneside’s tower blocks in the wake of London’s Grenfell Tower disaster.

The Gazette yesterday revealed the borough’s four high-rises – three in Jarrow and one in Hebburn, which are home to 287 people - are to be retro fitted with sprinkler systems.

Durham Court resident Irene Duffy

Durham Court resident Irene Duffy

Although not legally obliged to act, housing chiefs say they want to maximise safety in the wake of the horror June blaze, which is believed to have claimed at least 80 lives.

The money has come from South Tyneside Council’s Housing Capital Fund.

Today, Irene Duffy, 71, one of 127 residents of 18-storey Durham Court, Hebburn, joined councillors Jim Perry and Liz McHugh in welcoming the move.

Mrs Duffy, a widower, said: “It’s a very good idea and will help us all to sleep better at night.

“We had been reassured by the housing people in the weeks after Grenfell that we were safe, so we didn’t really have that many worries.

“But it is of course that extra bit reassuring to know that we will be protected by a sprinkler system. I think residents will be a lot happier.”

Coun Perry, whose Primrose ward in Jarrow is home to Ellen Court, Monastery Court and Wilkinson Court blocks, which house a total of 159 people, praised the decision.

He said: “Adding sprinklers will give residents an extra level of reassurance and is good news for everyone living in one of our tower blocks.

“I feel this had to be done, but I think residents were already quite safe. People should be reassured.”

And Hebburn Coun Nancy Maxwell said: “Anything that keeps people safe is good news.

“I’m delighted that South Tyneside Council is taking the view that we deal with this and that people are reassured that they are safe in their homes.”

South Tyneside Council says it wants to enhance fire safety in its tower blocks over and above what is required by law.

Consultation roadshows will take place with residents over the coming months in preparation for work taking place.