‘It’s like a living hell’: Residents’ outcry as Gosport tower repairs leave them living in total darkness

A TOWER block that has been completely covered in plastic sheeting has left residents quite literally in the dark, after work to replace the building’s cladding slowed.

Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 5:34 pm
Updated Monday, 11th November 2019, 11:02 am
Angie Webster says 'enough is enough' when it comes to the cladding delays. Picture: David George

Residents at Harbour Tower in Gosport say that their lights and heating have to be kept on at all times, with no natural light and no insulation for their homes.

Housing association Hyde, which is replacing the cladding post-Grenfell, has placed plastic sheeting around the entire building, blocking out the light for those inside.

The firm says the work is essential after the cladding failed testing after the tragic fire in London – but residents still aren’t happy about their situation.

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Work started on the tower blocks last year. Picture: David George

Lizzie Parsons, 91, said: ‘I had a beautiful view over to Portsmouth and it has been lost.

‘I have to keep my light and my heating on all day long – I won’t even dare to look at my meter readings.

‘Sometimes I just want to scream; I miss the warmth of the sun and the light coming through my window.

‘I dream of being warm again.’

Harbour Tower in Gosport. Picture: David George

Angie Webster, 65, lives on the fifth floor of the building.

She says that residents have been given no indication of when work will finish – which she believes has slowed since Hyde began working on two nearby towers.

Angie explained: ‘This building used to be beautiful – you could look out and watch the sun rise.

‘Now it’s like a living hell, and it feels like there is no end in sight.

Angie Webster outside Harbour Tower in Gosport. Picture: David George

‘Ever since work started on the other buildings, we’ve only ever seen two or three workers on-site at any given time, when there used to be around 10 of them.

‘It has slowed down the work and that means we will stay cold and in the dark for longer.’

Ms Webster says that some residents have left their flats for extended periods of time – just to escape the ‘carnage’.

She explained: ‘A friend of Lizzie’s has gone to Bournemouth for two months, and I went away over Christmas just to get away from it all.

‘You never know what clothes to wear because you don’t know what the weather is like, your lights and heating are on all the time and we’ve got no idea when the work will be done.

‘I know it won’t go on forever but it feels like an eternity already.’

Brent O’Halloran, director of asset management at the Hyde Group, said: ‘We understand that this is a difficult time for our residents and are sorry for the disruption it is causing.

‘However, resident safety is our priority and it is vitally important that we remove the cladding from the building and replace it with a safer alternative.

‘We decided to use plastic sheets because they provide better protection against the elements and keeps the building warmer than mesh would during this work.

‘We have been slightly delayed due to unforeseen circumstances and will be writing to residents this week to give them more information about when the works will be completed.

‘Our contractor Axis has employed the same number of workers since the project began but they are now spread across more buildings. Axis plans to bring in more workers once the weather improves and as the project progresses.

‘Resident safety is our priority but we also want residents to be comfortable while we carry out this complex project.

‘If anyone is feeling cold or has higher energy bills than usual, we encourage them to contact us as soon as possible and we will do our best to help.’