Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has written to Housing Secretary Sajid Javid to demand urgent action from the Government following the serious fire at a high-rise block in Bramley this week.
After the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in west London, Ms Reeves called on the Government to offer immediate help to guarantee the safety of residents living in high rises in her Leeds West constituency and elsewhere in the city.
However, her request and another made by Leeds City Council were rebuffed by the Government, which said it had decided the retrofitting of sprinklers at the blocks was not essential.
But, following the serious fire at Poplar Court 2 this week – which saw three people taken to hospital with smoke inhalation – she has stepped up the pressure on ministers and written to Mr Javid calling on him to fund vital safety improvements to prevent the risk of another life-threatening fire at a Leeds high rise.
In the last three years alone, there have been 13 fires in flats and communal areas in the four Poplar high rises.
Since the disaster at Grenfell Tower, Leeds City Council has been working to improve fire safety standards in all high-rise blocks in Leeds.
It is funding the £10 million cost of the most urgent work, and wrote to Sajid Javid in January to request funding totalling £32 million to install sprinklers in all high rises. However, the Government decided that this work was not essential and the council has been unable to move ahead with the rest of the safety work.
Ms Reeves said the Government should urgently rethink its decision and provide the required funds so the residents of Leeds’ high rises could sleep safely at night.
Ms Reeves said:
“The Government cannot continue to ignore the risks faced by my constituents who live in high rises. There was a serious fire in a high-rise block in Bramley which could have had terrible consequences were it not for the fantastic efforts of the fire service and the Council’s longstanding investment in fire safety.
“By giving Leeds City Council the money it needs to install sprinklers, the Government could help alleviate residents’ fears and allow them to feel safe in their homes. The Government should provide funding to protect high-rises in Leeds from the risk of fire as a matter of urgency.”
As reported by The Dispatch in January, nearby Gamble Hill Croft and Gamble Hill Grange will benefit from sprinklers in a bid to improve fire safety in the 12-storey blocks. They are two of eight blocks across the city earmarked for sprinkler systems.