And Gazette readers had plenty to say about the need for sprinkler systems in the borough’s high rise tower blocks after the Grenfell tragedy – and South Tyneside Council bosses have been listening.
Today, Coun Allan West, lead member for housing and transport at South Tyneside Council, outlines the council’s plans
Residents at a South Tyneside tower block have welcomed plans to install sprinklers.
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Although deemed safe, the council is taking action to retrofit sprinkler systems to all four high-rise building in South Tyneside.
Automatic sprinkler systems will be fitted to Ellen Court, Monastery Court and Wilkinson Court in Jarrow and Durham Court in Hebburn - 286 residents in all.
Coun Allan West, lead member for housing and transport at South Tyneside Council said: “We have done a huge amount of work in recent years to make sure our tower blocks are safe.
“The cladding systems are fireproof and comply with building and planning regulations but as an extra reassurance to residents we want to take action to retrofit sprinklers in all four blocks
“Our high-rise buildings are safe. However, the tragic events at Grenfell have changed perceptions of high-rise safety. As a council, we have a duty to provide the best possible fire protection for our tenants, and we will do whatever it takes to keep people safe.”
It is anticipated that the improvements will cost an estimated £1.4m and work will start later this year.
Following the tragic events in London last summer, South Tyneside Homes carried out fire safety inspections and commissioned an independent fire safety inspector to carry out a level four risk assessment in these buildings.
Every property has undergone a home safety check in advance of work starting. This has highlighted any additional support the Council and South Tyneside Homes can give to its more vulnerable residents. Scooter storage areas are also being brought in to ensure that communal areas remain clear.
Peter Tallack, 72 from Durham Court, said: “The council has been proactive and taken it in hand. I’m very pleased it is taking action. I’d rather have some disruption and save a life if the worst were to happen.”
The Council has vowed to undertake the works with as minimum disruption as possible.
Howard Campbell, 74 from Hebburn said: “After Grenfell the sprinklers will give us peace of mind.
“I don’t mind the disruption because it’s a godsend to have sprinklers.”
Consultation roadshows will take place with residents over the coming months in preparation for work taking place.