MP Jones calls on government to spend £1bn on sprinklers

Today marks 10 years since the Lakanal House fire in Southwark, where six people – including young mothers and their infant children – were killed when flames and smoke spread through a council-owned high-rise.

The fire at Lakanal House was on July 3, 2009. Six people died

Yet an investigation conducted by Sarah Jones, the MP for Croydon Central and Labour’s parliamentary housing team, has discovered that despite that tragedy, and the subsequent Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 when 72 people died, the situation remains that 95 per cent of England’s social housing tower block homes are without sprinkler systems.

In 2013, the coroner who led the inquest into the Lakanal fire recommended that social landlords should retrofit sprinklers in their tower blocks. Successive housing ministers in Tory-led governments, including the former Croydon MP, Gavin Barwell, ignored those recommendations and failed to implement them.

Information gathered by shadow housing minister Jones and her team found that among 2,107 council-owned tower blocks taller than 10 storeys, only 112 had sprinklers fitted.

“The Lakanal House fire showed the clear need for sprinklers in all tall housing blocks,” Jones told Inside Croydon today.

“Yet a decade on, nothing has changed. We know ministers ignored years of warnings prior to Grenfell, and two years after 72 people died, they are still refusing to make blocks safe.

“It is simply a contradiction in terms for the government to suggest that sprinklers are essential in new buildings whilst ignoring calls for them in older buildings.

Croydon MP Sarah Jones: wants £1bn spent on retrofitting sprinklers

“This creates a two-tier, hierarchy of harm in which social housing tenants are disproportionately affected.”

Sprinklers have been legally required in new residential buildings of 10 storeys or higher since 2007, but the regulations do not apply retrospectively.

Labour wants the government to spend £1billion installing sprinklers in the country’s social housing tower blocks and to carry out other fire safety measures.

The government claims that buildings can achieve an appropriate level of fire safety without sprinklers.

Following the Grenfell fire, Croydon’s Labour council took the belated decision to heed the Lakanal coroner’s warnings and fit sprinklers in its high-rise residential blocks, work which is close to completion. But Tory government promises immediately after Grenfell to provide funding to local authorities to fit sprinklers as an essential safety precaution have gone unfulfilled.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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1 Response to MP Jones calls on government to spend £1bn on sprinklers

  1. croydonres says:

    It’s very reassuring to know that Croydon have been proactive since the Grenfell tagedy, in getting Croydon’s council blocks retrofitted with sprinklers. Clearly other authorities have been far less active. MP Jones is quite right in highlighting the double-think in operataion, about the rules that require fitting new builds with sprnklers, but not the existing ones.

    I wonder what the situation regarding removing fire-prone types of panel cladding is, and how Croydon compares there too.

    The central and local governmental inertia following Lakanal was a disgrace.

    Until all blocks are rid of flammable cladding, and fitted with sprinklers, the risk to life from fire , for tenant s and leaseholders, remains. Let’s hope that nothing else does occur in the time before the national estate of high buildings is brought up to safe standards.

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