Former councillor raises concerns about fire safety in Sheffield's high-rise flats

Peter McLoughlin outside the tower block where he lives. Picture: Marie Caley/The Star
Peter McLoughlin outside the tower block where he lives. Picture: Marie Caley/The Star

A former council cabinet member has raised concerns about fire safety in Sheffield's high rise flats following the devastating blaze in London.

A fire, which ripped through a block of flats in a Kensington, killed 17 people with the death toll likely to rise further.

Peter McLoughlin, who lives in a block of flats on Brightmore Drive in Netherthorpe and was once cabinet member for housing on the council, is urging the authority to deal with fire risks in his own block and other across the city.

The former councillor has written many reports on fire safety in blocks of flats in the city and he's urged the council to reveal if any of the cladding material used in the Kensington block is present in Sheffield.

But councillor Jayne Dunn, who has housing in her brief, said the authority had 'significantly invested' in measures to improve fire safety.

Speaking about the problems in his own block, Mr McLoughlin said: "One problem is the illegal dumping of rubbish piled up at the side of the block where I live and it can be about five feet high. That can't be right? If that ever is set alight for whatever reason located next to the block I fear what could happen.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing on TV, my heart goes out to everyone involved. To me, this was avoidable.

"I don't know if our cladding on the outside of the block is the same as the one down in London but if it is, the council are deliberately ignoring a potential fire hazard.

"I've also been banging on about is the broken gates which allows emergency vehicles room to park up in if there is ever a serious incident.

"It's ended up being an illegal car park for people using the university or people heading to the city centre.

"I've not had a satisfactory response to this and it could very well end up in tragedy. I'd want to know what measures are in place for something like this in Sheffield and what reassurances the council can give residents."

Coun Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, at Sheffield City Council, said: “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the tragedy in London. The scale of the disaster is hard to make sense of and the eye witnesses’ accounts are absolutely harrowing.

“What happened in London will clearly upset and worry a great number of people in Sheffield, but I want to reassure residents how seriously we take fire safety. For all of our buildings and tower blocks, safety is our priority – their design, build and updating are shaped by this.

“We know people might be worried if they live in a tower block. We don't know why this terrible fire happened yet, so if we need to change any of our arrangements to keep people safe we will do, but it is important that we have the fullest of information before taking any next steps.

“Since the 1990s, significant investment has taken place to all 24 blocks, and millions of pounds have been spent on measures that minimise fire risk, which has included working closely with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

“Regular Fire Risk Assessments take place and each tower block is visited daily to check it is safe. We tackle any issues with tenants and leaseholders, particularly around the removal of waste.

“Since the disaster we have been visiting tower blocks and talking to tenants to reassure them that they are safe in their homes.

“Once we know the reasons for disaster, if we need to change any arrangements to keep tenants safe then we will.”