Leeds City Council faces £52m bill for new fire laws

Leeds City Council expects it will need to spend £52m on high rise blocks of flats should the government make new legislation in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

Tuesday, 5th December 2017, 4:00 am
Updated Thursday, 18th January 2018, 10:05 pm
HIGH COSTS: High rise blocks require investment to cover possible new rules.

The authority is awaiting the outcome of a national public inquiry which is expected to outline changes for compulsory building regulations and fire safety measures.

Scrutiny arms of the council conducted their own report, ‘Leeds’ Response to Grenfell’, following June’s tragedy, which has considered compliance with fire safety standards, engagement with local residents and long-term investment into housing stock fire safety measures.

One of the main actions needed is likely to be the introduction of sprinkler systems in all high rise blocks. The authority expects this to cost around £32m and while it has already made £10m available to cover the costs of this, it has no budget for the remaining £22m.

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The report says: “If additional funding for these works is not made available from Government then they will have to be funded from existing resources, meaning that it will not be possible to carry out all the works currently contained in the Council’s investment plan.”

Another major concern for the scrutiny panel was that a paper based system is still in use for recording fire checks and the results scanned and emailed to the relevant housing departments. So, it has recommended that as “a matter of urgency”, the council explores investment opportunities for handheld technology, such as smart phones, to be introduced.

Residents will also be communicated with more frequently over safety issues.

The report was discussed yesterday at the Scrutiny Board for Environment, Housing and Communities.