The fire safety of high rise buildings was the main topic of discussion at last month’s regular meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority ‘Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny. This meeting brings together 15 councillors from across Greater Manchester. Councillor Tim Pickstone, one of the Bury reps on the committee reports back:
High Rise Task Force
The main item for consideration was an update from the work of the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force. This was set up in June 2017, following the fire at Grenfell Tower to coordinate the response to the issues that the fire raised for Greater Manchester.
This has been followed by the establishment of a dedicated High Rise Team within Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, to ensure that there is a targeted response on following up on inspections of all high rise buildings.
For the purposes of the high rise strategy, ‘high rise’ means a building over 18m high. There are issues with some types of cladding on buildings and this remains a very serious issue for some buildings, particularly where building owners are facing very large bills to replace cladding.
At the moment there are around 80 high rise buildings in Greater Manchester that Fire Service maintains with interim measures to ensure public safety.
I also asked about buildings under 18m which might be affected by cladding issues which are currently not required to be on a register (an example being the student block in Bolton affected by fire last month, which is mostly under 18m.
School Readiness Update
One of the main priorities for Greater Manchester is to increase the number of children who are ‘ready for school’ (school readiness levels). As a county, Greater Manchester is behind the national average for school readiness, and this has been identified as a key issue that needs to be solved.
The Committee received an update on this issue, particularly looking at the performance date for the 2018-19 academic year. Bury is actually second best in Greater Manchester (behind Trafford) with over 70% of children ready for school.
The report noted that significant progress has been made across Greater Manchester to increase school readiness levels, and that additional funding (£1.2 million) had been secured to take this forwards over the coming two years.
Budget Update Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority
Following the ‘buying out’ of the PFI contact by GMWDA, the authority seems in good financial health. The forecast budget outturn for 2019-20 is in line with the budget. The projected levy amounts for 2020-21 and 201-22 are £177 and £180 million respectively (this is the total amount charged to Greater Manchester councils for waste disposal).
The full papers for the meeting are here. Any questions please ask.