Cladding removal on Portsmouth tower blocks could take ‘months’, residents told

Neil Odin, deputy chief officer speaking at the meeting at the New Theatre Royal.

Picture: Sarah Standing (170835-9794)
Neil Odin, deputy chief officer speaking at the meeting at the New Theatre Royal. Picture: Sarah Standing (170835-9794)

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RESIDENTS living in tower blocks in Portsmouth have been told it could take ‘months’ for cladding to be removed.

People living in Horatia House and Leamington House, in Somers Town, were invited to a public meeting organised by Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service this evening.

Until the cladding is totally removed and sprinklers put in, I don’t think I’ll feel 100 per cent safe

A resident of Horatia House

The council wanted to reassure residents and answer their questions following the removal of cladding from the two blocks.

During the meeting, held at the New Theatre Royal on Guildhall Walk, questions were asked about procedures in the case of a fire, emergency lighting and when the cladding would be totally removed from the buildings.

As previously reported in The News, the council started removing cladding last Friday after test results revealed it was a potential risk.

But it it unknown how long it could take to remove all the cladding as scaffolding could take weeks to put up.

During the meeting Steve Groves, asset manager at the council, said it would likely be months rather than days.

Speaking afterwards Neil Odin, deputy chief officer for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘It has been helpful hearing the concerns people have.

‘We are here to reassure the residents here tonight and those who couldn’t make it that we are doing everything to make them safe in their buildings. I hope we did reassure them and answer their concerns because I am certain that all that can be done is being done and we are working with the council.’

One resident living in Horatia House, who did not want to be named, said the meeting had been helpful but concerns remained.

She added: ‘Until the cladding is totally removed and sprinklers put in, I don’t think I’ll feel 100 per cent safe.

‘But I have been impressed with the reaction of the council and the fire service to deal with the problems.’

Leader of the council Councillor Donna Jones said: ‘It was important for us to give residents the chance to ask questions and get the answers.

‘From my perspective it is important that residents feel happy, comfortable and safe in their homes.’

Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan also attended the meeting along with ward councillors and other councillors from the city. He said: ‘As soon as I heard what was happening about the two blocks I went down there to speak to the council and the fire service. I wanted to help assure residents and this meeting was important in doing that too.’