Portsmouth council leader demands £10m from government to fit sprinklers to high rises

Portsmouth City Council leader Cllr Donna Jones
Portsmouth City Council leader Cllr Donna Jones
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  • City council leader writes to MPs to ask for their help in securing up to £10m from the government to pay for sprinklers
  • Donna Jones said she would not ‘settle for anything but the best’ for residents
  • Council wants to put sprinkler systems into 13 high-rise buildings
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PORTSMOUTH’S council boss has promised not ‘to settle for anything short of the best’ for residents in her campaign to make sure sprinklers are in all the city’s high-rise buildings.

She has written to the city’s two MPs asking for their help in securing funding to make changes to 13 of the area’s tallest residential buildings.

79 people have been confirmed as dead following last week's Grenfell Tower blaze. Picture: PA

79 people have been confirmed as dead following last week's Grenfell Tower blaze. Picture: PA

It follows calls from the county’s fire and rescue service for sprinklers to be installed in all high-rise flats.

Cllr Jones reassured residents that all buildings met the ‘required safety standards’.

She added: ‘It is the government’s job to protect this country’s people. We will not settle for anything short of the best for our citizens.

‘We need our local MPs to use their influence in government to help secure the funding we need to get sprinklers into our high-rise buildings as a matter of urgency.’

We will not settle for anything short of the best for our citizens.

Cllr Donna Jones, Portsmouth City Council leader

The letter comes in the wake of last week’s Grenfell Tower blaze in London, following which 79 people have been confirmed dead.

Portsmouth City Council is planning to add sprinklers to buildings with 10 storeys or more, of which there are 13 in the city.

Senior council officers have estimated the work will cost between £8-10 million.

The letter has been sent to Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan and the Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said he supported the call for sprinklers in all high rises.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said he supported the call for sprinklers in all high rises.

It says: ‘As you are aware, the city council has seen a 44 per cent reduction in funding from central government over the last six years and with increasing pressures on statutory services for adult social care, the city council seeks government funding to retrofit these essential life-saving devices.

‘We’ve recently written to the residents of these blocks to reassure them that relevant fire risk assessments have been undertaken.

‘Ongoing fire-safety reviews will continue to be carried out.’

Some cladding from the city’s high rise buildings has been submitted for testing, to make sure it is not a fire risk.

The government has said tests will be carried out on about 600 high rises across the country.

On Wednesday Southampton City Council announced it would be retrofitting sprinklers into flats, with work set to start next week.

Yesterday Mr Morgan said he supported the comments made by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service chief fire officer Dave Curry, who said sprinklers were like ‘having a firefighter in every room’.

Mr Morgan added: ‘Councils must be given the resources to assure communities and keep homes safe - that’s what we all want to see.’

Ms Mordaunt has been approached for comment.