SOUTHEND Council is set to commit to carrying out in-depth fire safety checks at high-rise tower blocks after coming under pressure from campaigners.

Council papers, published ahead of a cabinet meeting next week, outline plans to carry out exhaustive safety checks on each type of high-rise building across the borough.

Campaigners have been calling for the checks, known as Type 4 fire risk assessments, since the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in 2017.

But the council has so far refused because such checks can be destructive to property, involving examining materials within walls.

Now, a funding boost is expected, with senior councillors discussing a proposal to add another £250,000 to the annual fire safety budget of £500,000, bringing it to a total of £750,000 per year over the next five years.

Councillor Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “Fire safety is rightly at the top of our agenda, and this report details the excellent progress that has been made in a number of areas, but also the important work that we intend to do in the future.

“The proposal to increase the fire safety budget we have for the next five years would ensure that we can keep doing the work that is needed to ensure our buildings are safe and residents are reassured.”

Along with the fire assessment, the council also commissioned an independent consultant to review fire safety at the Grampian and Malvern tower blocks, which were chosen at random.

While the results did not conclude there were any serious dangers, they will be used alongside the results of the Type 4 assessments to inform future investments, including the potential for retrofitting sprinklers.

The cabinet papers note: “In order to maximise the assurance that may be provided to residents the council has commenced the appointment of external consultants to undertake Type 4 assessments initially in one of each style of high rise residential block.”

Councillor Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Although the council’s buildings meet the regulatory standards that were in place when they were constructed, extended or altered, and they have up-to-date fire risk assessments in place, we have a duty to make sure our residents and visitors feel safe and secure at all times.

“By proposing to increase the budget for the next five years we are demonstrating the importance we place on the fire safety work continuing to take place, and reinforces our commitment to get the work done and doing this by leading by example.”