Portsmouth high rises set for full review over sprinkler systems

Cladding being removed from Horatia House and Leamington House
Cladding being removed from Horatia House and Leamington House

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  • Portsmouth’s high rises and sheltered blocks to be reviewed for new sprinkler systems
  • Council to lobby government to ensure release of funds
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A REVIEW of Portsmouth’s high-rises and sheltered blocks is set to take place to see if sprinkler systems are needed.

Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet agreed to the review this afternoon to stand the authority in good stead should the government release emergency funds to pay for any retrofitting of sprinkler systems.

We need to look at how many buildings will require a sprinkler system and how much it will cost. This will allow us to put in a comprehensive bid to government should it release funds to complete these works across the country

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council

The work could potentially cost £12.2m – a figure considered unaffordable by the council which would be the equivalent to a council tax rise increase of £220 per taxpayer.

Therefore, the council will continue to lobby central government for the release of around £10m in funds to assist in the potential works following the outcome of the review.

Council leader Donna Jones told the authority’s cabinet at a meeting yesterday that sprinkler systems may not be suitable for some concrete buildings as it could compromise their safety.

Cllr Jones said: ‘We need to look at how many buildings will require a sprinkler system and how much it will cost.

‘This will allow us to put in a comprehensive bid to the government should it release funds to complete these works across the country.

‘It is about pre-empting if and when the government offer the funds.’

Councillor Rob New, cabinet member for community safety, backed the decision, stating: ‘It is heartening to see the council putting residents’ safety first.’

The review will take place while work continues on removing ‘fire-risk’ cladding from Horatia House and Leamington House in Somers Town.

At a meeting with residents of the blocks on Tuesday night, Steve Groves, the council’s asset manager said the work could take ‘months’.

Work got under way last Friday after test results the day before revealed that the cladding was a potential risk.

Cllr Jones added: ‘Every resident of the two blocks have had at least three letters written to them to reassure them.

‘For councils all across the country, it has been a very difficult week and staff in our housing service have barely slept as they have done so much work.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan is hosting a fire safety meeting with residents at Landport Community Centre tomorrow night from 6pm until 7.30pm.