A PUBLIC safety boss appeared to back calls for a comprehensive fire safety inspection in one of Southend’s tower blocks – before backtracking less than 24 hours later.

Southend councillor Mark Flewitt was asked during a full council meeting on Wednesday night why there is a reluctance to carry out a detailed inspection – known as a type 4 assessment – of the Blackdown tower block, in Westcliff.

The Conservative responded by telling the chamber he “does not see any reason” why an assessment should not be done, in an apparent U-turn for the administration which previously dismissed calls for the assessments multiple times.

He told the meeting: “I don’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be an assessment made on the site.

“I have no problem with recommending there be an on-site assessment made, whether that will meet with what you hope it will and what the residents hope it will, I can’t guarantee. But I can guarantee that will be an on-site inspection.”

But when pressed for details after the meeting Mr Flewitt went back on his comments, claiming he was actually talking about a site visit.

“I can understand where confusion has come from,” he said.

“What I meant was that there is going to be a site visit, which is being arranged and I can’t guarantee the outcome.”

He added that he cannot guarantee a type 4 inspection would take place and no councillor can.

Labour’s Margaret Borton raised “serious concerns” about fire safety at Blackdown during the meeting.

She said: “Recently I was in Blackdown and the fire notice in the stairwell was held together by double sided sticky tape.

“Residents have asked for a type 4 risk assessment. They are not asking for the moon, only that they feel safe in their homes.”

Following Mr Flewitt’s claim that he was talking about a site visit rather than the assessments, Labour’s Matt Dent said: “There is misspeaking and then there is saying the opposite of what you mean.

“He clearly made a U-turn at full council and is now making a U-turn on the U-turn – it is not encouraging.”

“If he misled the council it is imperative he corrects that and explains precisely what he meant and why he said something he did not mean.

“Anyone sat in that council chamber will be of the opinion that the portfolio holder for public protection is happy to do a level 4 assessment.”