Birmingham's leaders urge Government to fund tower block sprinklers seven months after Grenfell fire tragedy

Birmingham’s Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders have issued a joint plea to Prime Minister Theresa May to provide funding to make the city’s tower blocks safe.

Seven months after the Grenfell fire tragedy, Birmingham is still waiting for the Government to confirm whether or not it will provide the money.

Ian Ward, Birmingham City Council'sLabour leader, wrote a joint letter to Theresa May along with Robert Alden, the leader of the opposition Conservative group, and Jon Hunt, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group, asking the Government to provide funding of £19.4 million.

The council is ready to pay £11.6 million towards the £31 million cost of fitting sprinklers to 213 tower blocks, which are home to 10,000 households.

Councillors said the rest of the funding must come from the Government.

The alternative would be to borrow the money, and pay it back in years to come from tenants’ rents.

The three leaders said in the letter:

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy last June, you will be aware that Birmingham has identified the requirement for an additional £31m to ensure the safety of our tenants.

Joint letter from Birmingham city council's party leaders
Council leader Ian Ward has signed a joint letter with council's Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders. Credit: ITV News Central

Speaking this week in the House of Commons, Birmingham Northfield MP Richard Burden said:

The Minister has said that no local authority has been refused assistance when it has asked for help to keep its tenants safe. He will know that Birmingham City Council requires £31 million to ensure that its tenants are kept safe.

Richard Burdon MP, Birmingham Northfield (Lab)

Housing Minister Dominic Raab told him:

We are in conversation with that local authority, as we are with others. We are continuing to talk these issues through, and I can assure him that we have not declined any requests for financial flexibility. >

Dominic Raab MP, Housing Minister (Con)

A spokesperson for the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said:

We have made it clear that we will consider financial flexibilities for councils who need to undertake essential fire safety work to make a building safe. >

Spokesperson, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government