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The tragedy at Grenfell Tower has forced all owners of high rise buildings to take stock, writes Ipswich Council Leader, David Ellesmere.

In Ipswich, the Borough Council only owns one tower block, Cumberland Towers, one of the Borough's sheltered housing schemes.

 

This block is of a very different construction to Grenfell Tower. There is also no gas supply to the building which removes a significant potential fire risk.

Cumberland Towers conforms to all current fire safety and building control regulations.

The block does not have the same aluminium composite cladding with an airgap between it and the building as used in Grenfell Tower.

Current works to the tower will add cladding to improve insulation but this will be mineral wool applied to the face of the building and finished with render. This has a high fire protection rating and conforms to BSI standards.

All flats have smoke alarms and there are regular fire drills. Each flat has a minimum of 60 minutes fire protection.

The fire service uses Cumberland Towers for training and so is well acquainted with the building.

We are as confident as we can be that Cumberland Towers is a safe place for our residents to live.

The one item of safety equipment Cumberland Towers does not have is a sprinkler system in every flat. This is not a requirement of current fire safety regulations.

However, if Cumberland Towers were built as a new tower block today, it would be required to have a sprinkler system fitted.

It is also a fact that there has not been a single fatality through fire in any tower block that has a sprinkler system fitted.

That’s why we’ve taken the decision to fit a sprinkler system to Cumberland Towers.

This will not come cheap. The cost is in the region of £180,000.

The Government is currently refusing to provide any money towards such works. We have requested funding but are not hopeful. However, we will install the sprinklers regardless of whether the Government makes a contribution or not.

This is absolutely the right thing to do. It will give residents additional peace of mind and ensure that we do not see the horrific events in Kensington repeated in Ipswich.

Looking after the safety of tower block tenants

The tragedy at Grenfell Tower has forced all owners of high rise buildings to take stock, writes Ipswich Council Leader, David Ellesmere. In Ipswich, the Borough Council only owns one...

The Vikings are here - or will be next weekend! 

Oh we do love to be beside the … Waterfront! 

Yes, preparations are under way for the fabulous Ipswich Maritime Festival, which offers fun and frolics by the water on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th August.

 

The two days will be filled with music, historical re-enactments, a variety of vessels, street food, fairground rides, Punch & Judy, a range of stalls and children’s activities. 

Entry to the Maritime Festival is free and a fully programmed stage of live music performances, a bar area, fire performers and a firework finale on the Sunday night make it an event not to be missed. 

Ipswich has a long and proud maritime history and this year the festival will take on a Viking theme based on the recapture of Ipswich from the Vikings 1100 years ago in 917AD.

This is just one event from your local Labour Council's calendar of Summer events - making Ipswich a better place to live or visit. 

Join the Summer fun at Ipswich Maritime Festival

The Vikings are here - or will be next weekend!  Oh we do love to be beside the … Waterfront!  Yes, preparations are under way for the fabulous Ipswich Maritime...

In his latest column in the Ipswich Star, Sandy Martin set out how he sees his role as our MP.

As MP for Ipswich I have two distinct roles – the first is to support Ipswich and Ipswich residents, and that is largely non-party-political; and the second is to support the Labour Party and fight alongside my Labour colleagues in Westminster to try to hold this Conservative-run government to account.


 

“MP for Ipswich” is actually a team. I will have three staff working in the Ipswich office, and I have one researcher working with me in Westminster, and that reflects the relative importance I am giving to the two venues. Already the team is helping residents in a far more effective way than any one person could ever do.

One of the most frequent and distressing types of case involves families who have been torn apart by the Home Office and their interpretation of the immigration rules.  We need immigration rules, and I certainly don’t believe that everyone who wants to should be allowed to come to this country.  But I do think it is just plain wrong – morally wrong, and completely unhelpful to society – for wives to be forced apart from their husbands, for frail elderly parents to be kept apart from their sons and daughters, and above all for children to be separated from their mothers and fathers.  Most of us couldn’t imagine a situation where we were not allowed to see our nearest and dearest – it sounds like the worst excesses of the Berlin Wall – but a significant number of people here in Ipswich are put in precisely that position.  My case workers here in Ipswich are doing whatever they can to help Ipswich families come back together again, working on a case by case basis. Meanwhile in Westminster, I will be joining with my Labour colleagues – and other MPs who share our concern – to try to make the rules more helpful to families.

And it’s not just individual case work where I need to work in Ipswich on a non-party-political basis.  I have recently sent a joint letter with Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, to Jake Berry, one of the Local Government ministers, asking him to allow us to spend £750,000 of government money on repaving the bit of Princes Street which runs alongside the Town Hall and Corn Exchange. They want us to spend it on the bit of the Waterfront nearest to Stoke Bridge, but we believe that with the massive demolitions and building works that will be needed in that area, any work on the pavements in that area is in danger of being ruined again. This is an example of an issue where the Councils, the Business community, and the local MPs can all come together to push for something which we can all see makes sense. I already have a good working relationship with the Borough Council and the business community here in Ipswich, and now that I have left the County Council I am looking forward to forging a new MP’s relationship with the County.

But when it comes to Westminster, I can take the experience of people here in Ipswich and apply that to Labour’s push for a fairer society for our country.  The best example is our campaign to lift the pay cap for public sector workers – doctors and nurses and teachers and firefighters and so on. We have a real struggle recruiting and then keeping good teachers and doctors and nurses in Ipswich, just as our schools and hospitals do right across the country. Each and every one of us wants our children to get the best possible education, and when we get sick we want the best possible healthcare. We’re not going to get that if we don’t pay people enough to make them want to stay.  People working in the public sector have seen the value of their wages fall since 2010.  Do not be taken in by those who say “we are putting record amounts of money into Health, or Education” – it is the actual purchasing power of that money which counts, and that has gone down.

I and my team will do whatever we can here in Ipswich, to help individuals and to be a champion for our town, but the political role for the MP is still hugely important – I was elected by people who wanted me to hold the Government to account, and I will make no apologies for fighting against the Tory Austerity agenda whenever and wherever I can.

Sandy sets out his role as our MP

In his latest column in the Ipswich Star, Sandy Martin set out how he sees his role as our MP. As MP for Ipswich I have two distinct roles –...

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