MP speaks out on call for sprinklers system in school rebuild plan

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has backed councillors and fire chiefs in calling for sprinklers to be installed as part of a multi-million pound rebuild of English Martyrs school.

Wednesday, 14th March 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th March 2018, 1:40 pm
Artist impression of English Martyrs School new building
Artist impression of English Martyrs School new building

Planning committee councillors were minded to approve the plans which will see English Martyrs transformed with new buildings and sports pitches.

But they added a condition that sprinklers should be installed to protect life and property following several school building fires in the past in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

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The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) which is funding the project has not included sprinklers in the budget as Hartlepool council did not have a specific policy about them.

English Martyrs headteacher Stephen Hammond has said the plan is ‘in limbo’ while it waits to see if the ESFA will pay for sprinklers.

Mr Hill has backed the council’s stance and said he will raise the issue in Parliament if necessary.

He said: “Somebody somewhere will argue that technically the council should not have made this intervention and put these demands, but I dare them to do that especially when the overall application is supported, the chief fire officer has written expressly on the importance of sprinklers and the fact that we all know that the Grenfell Tower tragedy has rightly led to a rethink on building construction regulations.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

“There have been several school fires in Hartlepool in the past and therefore it is entirely appropriate that the council insists on this provision and if this sets a precedence so be it, it wouldn’t be a first for Hartlepool where back in the day the authority had the vision to insist that all secondary schools had on site swimming pools so young people living in this coastal town learnt to swim.

“Councillor Rob Cook the chair of the planning committee was absolutely right when he says ‘you cannot put a price on somebody’s life or somebody being injured’, Grenfell tells us this.”

No other secondary school in Hartlepool have sprinklers.

Mr Hill added: “In the name of health and safety it would be appalling to think that they or anybody would chose the alternative and hire solicitors to challenge the council on this one in order to progress the project without comprehensive fire safety measures.

“It certainly should not be necessary, but if needs be I will raise this specific issue in Parliament and with the ESFA in order to help make common sense prevail.”

English Martyrs was successful in the second wave of the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme.