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Council looks to government for aid with ‘unprecedented’ fire safety funding gap

Croydon Council has today asked the government to provide more funding for its £10m sprinkler programme as it tries to improve fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The council has sent a letter to housing minister Alok Sharma in an attempt to obtain a face-to-face meeting and discuss the “unprecedented funding gap” that will develop following the work.

Previously, Croydon claims the DCLG has twice refused to provide additional backing for the authority, which committed to retrofitting sprinklers in 26 of the borough’s tallest residential tower blocks.

However, the department says it has not declined any requests for funding for “essential fire safety measures.”

In the letter, Cllr Alison Butler writes: “Croydon’s fire safety programme will cost £10m from our Housing Revenue Account, placing a significant long-term financial burden on other ring-fenced council projects.

“Croydon may be the first council to invest in urgent measures post-Grenfell, but we recognise that others have far more homes. In London alone, many are also still tackling cladding issues under your department’s instruction. Therefore, the full cost will not become clear for months to come, if not years.

“Without your help to provide extra funding, local authorities like Croydon that take the initiative on post-Grenfell fire safety in both council and private housing face an unprecedented funding gap.”

Butler also criticised the government for asking councils to do checks on the safety of private blocks.

In response, a DCLG spokesperson told PSE: “Public safety is paramount and following the Grenfell Tower tragedy we set up a comprehensive building safety programme to ensure a fire like this can never happen again.

“While building owners are responsible for funding fire safety measures in their properties, we have been clear that councils should contact us if they have any concerns about funding as we will consider financial flexibilities for essential work to make a building safe.

“We have received additional information in a letter from Croydon Council and we will respond in due course.”

Top image: CoolBKK

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