Call for developer levies to fund fire ladders tall enough for Isle of Dogs
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A £1 million rescue platform ladder tall enough to tackle a fire in any of the East End’s 900 skyscrapers and blocks may have to be bought out of town hall cash.
Proposals for the hydraulic equipment that could reach 200ft is scheduled to be debated by Tower Hamlets Council on July 21.
Mayor John Biggs is now investigating whether the authority can use planning levies charged to developers on the Isle of Docks to pay for a rescue platform to be kept at Millwall fire station.
He was responding to calls by the Tory opposition group's demands last month following the fire at the 19-storey New Providence Wharf on May 7.
During that incident, a 90ft hydraulic rescue platform had to be brought in from Old Kent Road.
“We have serious concerns to the fire brigade response to the fire,” Tory group leader Cllr Peter Golds told the East London Advertiser.
“The 32m aerial ladder took 20 minutes to arrive and could only reach the 10th floor anyway.
“The soon-to-be completed 75-storey Landmark Pinnacle skyscraper in Marsh Wall is more than 750ft high (233m).”
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He wrote to the Labour mayor on June 14: “It cannot be right that the high-rise community on the Isle of Dogs have to wait for fire engines to get there from Greenwich or Old Kent Road.”
Funds for a 64m extension platform ladder could be used from levies charged for Isle of Dogs skyscraper developments, he suggested.
Tower Hamlets Council currently has £76m unspent planning levies from the area.
Mr Biggs wrote to the Conservative group on July 16 acknowledging the need for a rescue platform that could reach 200ft. Council officers are now looking to see if it is permissible to spend planning levies.
“There are other considerations that make it complicated,” the mayor wrote. “Would it just be for use here or across east London? Does the fire brigade have local storage to accommodate it?”
The council is taking part in public consultations with the fire brigade in September.
Three new rescue platforms that can reach 200ft are due to be brought into service later by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) this year. But the nearest would still be Old Kent Road, the next at Dagenham, with the third at Wimbledon.
LFB currently has 15 hydraulic rescue ladders, but only reaching 90ft (32m).
The town hall is looking into whether planning levies can be used, while the fire authority would identify where a 64m hydraulic platform could be kept — councillors are suggesting Millwall fire station on the Isle of Dogs as the ideal place.