Wigan flats to get sprinkler system

Scholes flats
Scholes flats

New sprinklers are set to be installed at Wigan’s high-rise blocks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster - even though some residents have reservations about the £2.4m initiative.

Councillors are prepared to meet the cost of installing the system across Scholes - and have also agreed to pay out £65,000 for the 25 to 30 owner-occupiers in the area.

Other news: Thick smoke billows from fire at Wigan industrial estate

If private tenants do not want to have sprinklers inside their flats or houses, the authority is prepared to fit sprays on the landings outside their property, to guard against fires spreading.

But the Scholes High Rise Residents’ Association says a number of householders are not convinced that the sprinklers are necessary, as every recent significant blaze within the high rises is said to have been contained within the affected property.

Brendan Delaney, residents association chairman, said: “The major concerns I am hearing is how, in the event of a fire, water would be contained within properties.

“What would happen, for instance, if there was a fire on the 11th floor of a block, and you were living on the seventh floor and you have a large volume of water coming from above?”

And other tenants have expressed their frustration at the prospect of yet more major construction works affecting the high-rises, after the refurbishment works of recent years - which, incidentally, included the introduction of new cladding.

Mr Delaney added: “Some of the flats in Scholes appear to have had major construction work ongoing for the past three years.”

Residents were grateful that the council had kept them informed about the sprinklers issue and it was hoped that their views could be expressed as part of a consultation exercise, he added.

“The problem at Grenfell was that the fire spread up the side of the building and we don’t have that kind of cladding,” he said.

Private tenants had also signalled their concerns over recent increases in service charges for the high-rises.

In a report to members, Wigan Council assistant housing director Marie Bintley said: “Following the review of fire safety following the Grenfell tragedy the blocks were deemed to be safe.

“However, following a recommendation from the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue (GMFR) fire safety officer a resolution was made to retrofit sprinklers. The recommendation from fire safety does not just apply to Wigan, and extends to all existing high-rise blocks across Greater Manchester.

“As a result of the resolution made to install sprinklers in the blocks, NPS were commissioned to carry out a feasibility study of the project and based upon their estimated costs for the scheme, a budget of £2.4m was identified in the capital programme.”

Councillors have agreed to extend the same provision to the 25 to 30 private tenants in Scholes, at a cost of around £2,500 per property.