CALLS for lifesaving fire safety improvements at Southend tower blocks have been dismissed as a “knee-jerk reaction” to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Fears have been raised about the safety of residents in tower blocks after it was claimed firefighters in Southend do not have the equipment to rescue people above ten storeys and 11 tower blocks are higher than this in Southend.

Following the deaths of 72 people in the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and after a year of waiting for improvements, a motion was submitted to Southend Council for better fire safety measures.

On Tuesday the motion was rejected.

Campaigners want automated fire alarms, sprinkler systems and checks on materials within walls.

Fire safety campaigner Colin Nickless, of Plas Newydd, Southend, said: “This council is not taking this seriously and lives are at risk.

“It is not a knee-jerk reaction to want a basic standard of existence and it is disgraceful to say that.

“Other councils have taken action and other councils have been taken to task with fines and sanctions because they’ve not taken appropriate steps to guarantee the safety of their residents. The council may not want to do this and this may cost money, but in my mind the safety of residents and the public is the first duty of any government, local or national.

“They are hiding behind legislation put in place before Grenfell that says you don’t need to take these measures. The Grenfell inquiry could go on for years, while people are stuck in houses that are potentially death traps.”

Deputy leader James Courtenay said: “While members of the public may desire knee-jerk reactions for completely understandable reasons when they see such disasters as Grenfell, it is our duty to take a step back and think before we act.

“We need to take advice from those who are experts with decades of experience to come up with the advice and then we should enact that as urgently as we can but it is not for us to second guess that.”

Council leader John Lamb said the council had the high-rise estates checked and the council took action.

Despite scrapping the motion, cabinet members did agree to write to the Communities Secretary of state to request that national guidance is provided quickly as soon as possible.