High priority work on Cliffs Pavilion fire doors prompts extra investment

Southend Council is looking to boost fire safety funding by an extra quarter of a million pounds due to ‘high priority’ work needed in Southend’s best-known theatre.

It is proposed that the extra £250,000 will be spent on improving fire doors at the Cliffs Pavilion theatre in Westcliff, following a safety assessment that labelled the work “high priority”.

Once the work has been completed it is expected to reduce the chance of a fire spreading throughout the theatre if one was to break out.

A council spokesperson said: “As a large public building that hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, we take fire safety very seriously.

“Following a recent assessment, we identified that we could enhance fire safety by replacing compartments around all fire doors within the building to help prevent fire spreading, were it to break out.

“This is a large project due to the high number of doors in the building but a necessary investment that will serve theatregoers well and keep them safer for many years to come.”

Once the work in complete, £250,000 will continue to be added to the fire safety budget annually for the next five years, increasing funding to £750,000 until 2025, with the money being raised through borrowing.

This will contribute towards a series of other safety reviews including the most comprehensive assessments, known as Type 4, being undertaken in two council-owned tower blocks.

When the funding proposal was discussed by council leaders during a cabinet meeting in the middle of September, Liberal Democrat Councillor Carole Mulroney said the work would be “monumental” and may raise several issues that the council will need to address.

Council leader, Councillor Ian Gilbert said the work would help the council to find out “once and for all” the safety situation with tower blocks, however he noted that previous fire assessments have “not thrown up anything unexpected”.

Members of the cabinet went on to approve the extra funding but next week it will be scrutinised further by the Place Scrutiny Committee before being voted on during a full council meeting.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter