Council boss welcomes government fire safety improvement proposals

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell. Picture: ANDREW BROOKES

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell. Picture: ANDREW BROOKES - Credit: Archant

Barking and Dagenham’s council leader has welcomed government plans to improve fire safety on buildings.

Housing secretary Robert Jeyrick unveiled a series of proposed reforms on Monday, January 20, including establishing a new building safety regulator.

He told MPs he is "minded" to lower the height threshold for sprinkler requirements in new buildings from 18 metres to 11 metres and that he would be prepared was preparing to name and shame those responsible for private buildings which have yet to start remediation work to deal with "unsafe ACM cladding".

That was the type of cladding on Grenfell Tower in Kensington, where a fire in June 2017 claimed the lives of 72 people.

Had the sprinkler threshold been reduced earlier, it may have made a difference at Samuel Garside House, in De Pass Gardens, Barking Riverside, during last year's fire.

Twenty flats were destroyed when a blaze broke out at the building, which is 13.75m tall - with residents telling the Post at the time that no sprinklers had gone off.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, speaking in his capacity as London Council's executive member for housing and planning, said: "London boroughs have long called for stronger safety regulation and we're particularly pleased that the government will call for the remediation of all buildings with category 3 ACM cladding regardless of their height.

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"We also welcome the commitment to consult on lowering the building height threshold for the use of other forms of combustible cladding.

"We urge the government to take a strong line in restricting the use of such cladding."

He added: "We still need to see more details, especially on funding. The government has previously made funding available for remediation of buildings over 18 metres, so it would be inequitable and inconsistent if the government does not extend this support.

"Boroughs will continue working with the government to ensure our concerns are addressed and that progress is made without further delay."

Further details on the government's proposals will be revealed in due course, Mr Jeyrick told ministers.