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£100m fire safety measure win for Bristol tower blocks

This is an update from the article published on the 5th January 2023.

£100 million fire safety measures for Bristol tower blocks have been announced following a successful campaign by residents.

Tonight (24th January), Bristol City Council has committed to increased fire safety measures for the city’s tower blocks after a campaign from residents affected by a number of fires and community union, ACORN.

The fire safety measures for council tower blocks voted through at this evening's Bristol City Council Cabinet meeting includes:

  • £46m to remove potentially dangerous EPS (expanded polystyrene) cladding

  • £32.7m for sprinkler systems for all 62 tower blocks

  • £12.4m for round the clock fire wardens at 38 blocks (until the cladding is removed or sprinklers installed)

  • £8.7m for new fire alarm system (as an interim measure for blocks that will have cladding removed over next 10 years).

Following a series of fires, including a fire at Twinnell House on 25th September 2022 in which Abdul Jabar Oryakhel tragically lost his life, residents came together and launched a campaign to highlight their concerns of inadequate fire safety in the tower blocks and demand action from the council.

Getting organised with ACORN, they launched the Bristol Towers United campaign, and set about flyering, knocking over a thousand doors and having conversations with their neighbours.

The campaign involved an accountability meeting, with residents inviting council leaders and the press to hear their concerns about inadequate fire safety in Council tower blocks. While Mayor Marvin Rees and other council representatives failed to attend, over sixty residents and the press did. 

Next, they agreed on a set of demands to ensure better fire safety, including sprinklers for all of the council’s tower blocks, fire safety wardens until these are fitted, and regular fire safety check with outcomes made public, which was delivered to the Council. We’re pleased to say that these have all been met.

Speaking of the campaign, ACORN member and Barton House resident, Shaban Ali said, “it shouldn't have taken this long or needed to turn into a battle for the Council as well as the Mayor to see common sense and stick to promises made in 2019 post-Grenfell but we're ecstatic our collective voice, along with the backing and support of ACORN, has been heard and finally action is being taken to make buildings safe. Families and their loved ones can now sleep easy." 

Nick Ballard, ACORN Head Organiser said “the very least we want from a home is a safe place to go to sleep. Sadly for the residents of these Bristol tower blocks, this wasn’t the case. That’s why they got together and organised with ACORN and fought for these fire safety measures.

“We’re delighted that Bristol City Council has now chosen to invest in the safety of their residents.”

“That’s why organisations like ACORN and campaigns like this are important, to give residents a voice and to make sure that the safety and security of tenants is at the top of every council’s agenda.”

“It’s a national disgrace that tower blocks across the country are still covered in dangerous cladding and don’t have adequate fire safety measures in place, and we will fight until we see a country where nobody is at risk of losing their home or losing their lives through avoidable tragedy.”

“We want to see other local authorities follow the example of Bristol City Council and put the safety of their residents first.”

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