Green light for £1m in levies to be used for East End fire rescue ladder
- Credit: Nick Larkin
Approval to buy a 200ft hydraulic rescue platform tall enough to reach the upper floors of tower blocks and skyscrapers has been agreed by Tower Hamlets Council.
All political groups voted unanimously at the July 21 council meeting to pick up the £1 million tab for a turntable ladder that they want kept at Millwall fire station.
The move follows the New Providence Wharf fire on May 7, when two rescue platforms had to be brought from Old Kent Road and Dagenham fire stations.
The Labour majority agreed to Opposition proposals to use planning levies charged to developers to buy the life-saving piece of kit in a resolution by the Lib Dems and adopted by the mayor.
“Buildings are getting higher and higher,” Tory leader Peter Golds told councillors. “We simply can’t continue packing people in so high.
“We have serious concerns about the first aerial ladder taking 20 minutes to reach New Providence Wharf, which could only reach the 10th floor anyway."
The new Landmark Pinnacle skyscraper in Marsh Wall on the Isle of Dogs is much taller — 75 storeys.
Cllr Golds spoke about the Grenfell Tower tragedy in west London, where 72 people perished four years ago in a raging inferno aided by non-fire resisting ACM cladding wrapped around the building.
Labour’s Eve McQuillan amended Lib Dem Cllr Rabina Khan’s resolution to get it through the voting lobby. The council plans talks with the London Fire Brigade about buying it the tall ladder.
She said: “People are worried when they go to bed each night that their homes aren’t safe. New Providence Wharf should have been made safe if Ballymore had funded the (cladding removal) work sooner.”
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The fire brigade is buying three new 64m extension platform ladders — but none are being stationed in Docklands or the Isle of Dogs, which has a dense concentration of skyscrapers per square mile.
Labour mayor John Biggs pointed out: “We have more tower blocks here than any other part of the country. But events at Grenfell show we’ve been fast and loose with building regulations that have created potential fire traps.”
There are 900 towers dotted across the East End on housing estates and private developments, with 293 in the private sector now having applied for government funding to remove ACM cladding.