Margaret Court in Herne Bay with Elizabeth Court in the background

City council investing £1 million in high rise fire safety

Following last year’s Grenfell Tower tragedy in west London, Canterbury City Council says it decided to take an “ultra-cautious approach” to fire safety in high-rise buildings.

It carried out a number of checks on buildings and will be investing around £1 million into necessary upgrades it has identified.

Independent experts Calfordseaden are overseeing the work on four blocks and contracts are about to go out to tender.

Cllr Joe Howes, vice-chairman of the council’s community committee, said: “Like many across the country, we were shocked by the tragedy at Grenfell Tower and immediately adopted an ultra-cautious approach.

“Officers have been working hard with colleagues at EKH and independent experts to assess the current state of play when it comes to fire safety at our properties.

“Where improvements can be made, they have come up with robust plans to make sure we reach the very highest standards.

“We decided not to wait until the various inquiries into the Grenfell tragedy have reported and opted to get on with it.

“Of course, we stand ready to respond to any fresh lessons that need to be learned.”

The main high rise buildings in the district are the 12-storey Windsor House in Belmont Road, Whitstable, which contains 70 sheltered housing flats for older tenants.

There is also the seven- and five-storey Elizabeth Court blocks in Herne Bay’s Queen Street as well as the nine-storey Margaret Court in King’s Road.

The blocks are managed by East Kent Housing.

Its chief executive Deborah Upton said: “Because of the vulnerability of the residents at Windsor House, we have decided to install sprinklers even though the current rules do not require us to.

“It also makes sense because we can tie it in with the other work that is being scheduled to take place there.

“When it comes to the other blocks, fire suppression systems like sprinklers have not been ruled out but there are lots of questions to be answered before the council can make a fully-informed decision.”

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