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Sprinklers left out of Wolverhampton Civic halls revamp

By Annabal Bagdi | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Sprinklers will not be installed inside Wolverhampton’s Civic Halls, it can be revealed.

Wolverhampton Civic Hall is currently bordered by fencing amid a major revamp project

Council bosses say the work being carried out at the venue includes adequate fire safety measures and to rethink plans now to include sprinklers would mean an increase in costs and timescales.

Wolverhampton’s i9 building is also on track to open without sprinklers, despite advice from the authority’s fire safety committee to install them.

Labour-led Wolverhampton Council has now been criticised by opposition leader Councillor Wendy Thompson, who claimed “lives will be put at risk” if both buildings open without sprinklers.

She said: “Public safety is of utmost importance, therefore there shouldn’t be any short cuts. It’s utterly appalling that the council thinks it can cut back on such an important item as sprinklers.”

Her comments come after eight opposition councillors stormed out of Wednesday’s full council meeting over a row concerning the Civic Halls revamp.

Councillor Thompson marched out with colleagues after what she claimed was an “anti-democratic” decision to cut short Councillor Jonathan Yardley’s speech.

He had filed a motion calling for an independent review into the project but was forced to stop short after apparently introducing new information which the council would be unable to respond to.

Sprinklers, which are not required by national fire regulations, were revealed to be left out of plans for both buildings during Wednesday’s earlier scrutiny review group for fire safety.

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But former firefighter and Labour councillor Councillor Greg Brackenridge blasted officers for not following guidance given by committee members almost two years ago.

It was recommended sprinklers be fitted in all major refurbished buildings throughout the city.

A council spokesman said: “We take fire safety very seriously in our buildings and public venues and the Civic Halls and i9 are no different.

“The new designs for the Grade II-listed Civic Halls incorporate fire safety measures that exceed the recommended national guidelines. Our planning has included a stringent fire safety review which demonstrated that there is no legal requirement for the installation of sprinklers.”

Director of regeneration Richard Lawrence confirmed there would be “potential detriment to time and costs” if developers amend plans to include sprinklers and different lining materials at the Civic Halls.

Annabal Bagdi

By Annabal Bagdi
@AnnabalB_Star

Senior reporter based at head office in Wolverhampton. Get in touch on 01902 319 229 or at annabal.bagdi@expressandstar.co.uk

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