Billingham tower block cladding delays 'atrocious'

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image captionResidents have had this view from their flats for 17 months

Residents say living in tower blocks surrounded by scaffolding for nearly a year and a half has been "atrocious".

Cladding in Kennedy Gardens in Billingham, Teesside, is being replaced following the Grenfell Tower fire.

But work on the towers, which are swathed in polythene and metal, is not expected to finish until the new year.

Landlords Thirteen blamed the length of time on a shortage of materials as providers across the country try to order the same replacement panels.

Residents said there was dust and dirt everywhere and it had been like living in a prison.

Kay Monhahan said before polythene was recently taken off the windows "it was like looking out in a thick fog".

"Everybody in these three buildings are absolutely fed up because you get told one thing and you know it's not going to happen," she said.

image captionNorma Pearson now cleans her flat every day, knowing it is pointless

Norma Pearson cleans every day and said she "can't cope with it much longer in here".

"During the day the noise has been absolutely atrocious," she said.

"They keep saying don't open your window [but] I've got a husband who's got asbestosis, he can't breathe, I need the windows open."

The housing group's chief executive, Ian Wardle, said he was "very sorry it's taken longer than we would have liked".

"But we've had to make sure that replacing the aluminium composite panels is being done properly, to the right standards," he said.

image captionResidents say it has been like living in a prison

Thirteen started replacing the combustible cladding a month after the Grenfell Tower fire and was initially praised for its quick response.

It is hopeful all scaffolding will be down by early in the new year, it said.

Residents said they had been offered £250 compensation.

image captionIt is hoped the scaffolding will eventually come down early in the new year

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