FIRE safety improvements at high rise flats in Leamington got underway this week in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.
Warwick District Council is spending £2.5million on improvements to reduce the fire risk at nine tower blocks in the town.
There are some 400 owned and rented flats across the blocks which vary from six to 15 storeys. They include Eden Court, Ashton Court and Southorn Court in Lillington; Christine Ledger Square and Radcliffe Gardens off Brunswick Street in south Leamington; Westbrook House and Stamford Gardens near the town centre, and blocks on Binswood Street and Clarendon Square.
Each was inspected by fire safety officers following the Grenfell inferno last June, but none were found with the same cladding thought to have led to that fire spreading so quickly and claiming the lives of 71 people.
Work began this week at Radcliffe Gardens where new 60 minute fire-resistant front doors are being fitted in every flat, together with the replacement of all communal and storage cupboard doors to further reduce the risk of fire spreading quickly.
The building will also benefit from improved lighting in communal areas, and walls are being painted and new flooring fitted to further improve fire safety.
Sprinkler systems could also be fitted at a later date. Technical assessments are currently being undertaken, and council chiefs are also awaiting the outcome of the government inquiry, chaired by Dame Hackett, into fire safety in high-rise blocks.
The cost of the fire safety improvements in the district is coming from the council’s ‘Housing Revenue Account’ into which rents and charges on council homes and garages is paid.
District housing spokesman Coun Peter Phillips said: “Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in June, we moved quickly to reassure tenants about fire-safety in our high-rise blocks.
“We also made a pledge to go much further to provide our tenants with the best possible fire-protection for their homes. The substantial improvement work we are undertaking follows consultation with the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service and the building industry.”
Warwickshire County Council fire and community safety Coun Howard Roberts welcomed the start of the works.
He added: “Any improvements to fire safety in high rise properties will receive our full support. No one wants a repeat of the tragic incident at Grenfell Towers and we welcome the programme of work and investment Warwick district have pledged. “Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service will continue to work closely with the district council while the improvements are being delivered to ensure the safety of residents is maintained.”
Council chiefs are also urging tenants to ensure communal areas are free of fire risks and obstructions, and are also encouraging them to report any repairs or issues in their block.
The work at Radcliffe Gardens is set to be completed by the end of May, after which the programme will continue at the town’s other high-rise blocks.