Residents speak after cladding removed from Sunderland tower blocks

The removal of the cladding started on Saturday.
The removal of the cladding started on Saturday.
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Residents of a Sunderland tower block which has had a section of cladding removed have welcomed the move.

Five tower blocks in the St Peter's area of Sunderland - Church Street, Dock Street, Zetland, Victor and Dame Dorothy - had decorative panels removed over the weekend following tests.

Resident Stanley Harrison criticised what he claimed was a lack of communication from housing chiefs.

Resident Stanley Harrison criticised what he claimed was a lack of communication from housing chiefs.

Some of the panels were found to have a safety score of category three, which is the lowest legal rating.

The Gentoo Group, which runs the city's social housing, had the panels removed as a result of the tests.

They say they are carrying out face-to-face reassurance with all of the residents in the towers, but some have told the Echo that the work was carried out before that took place.

Stanley Harrison, 81, who has lived on the eighth floor of Church Street North tower block since 2008, said: "We haven't been kept in the loop so we don't know if the cladding is safe or not.

"All we know is that they're taking it down."

His friend Noreen Evans, 84, who has lived on the 11th floor since 2006, said: "They didn't inform anyone that they were removing the cladding.

"The first we knew was when they started taking it off on Saturday.

"After seeing what happened at Grenfell Tower in London, when you're in the high floors, you worry."

Others said they were reassured by the removal of the panels following the disaster at Grenfell earlier this month, which killed at least 79 people.

One resident who did not wish to be named said: "I feel so sorry for the people in London who lost their lives.

"That was one of the worst things I've ever seen.

"I've never felt unsafe in here, but it does make you think.

"It brings it all home when you see something like that happen.

"It's better to be safe than sorry, so I'm glad they're taking the cladding off."

A visitor to the tower block was another to claim residents had not been kept informed of the likelihood of the panels being taken down.

He said: "My mam lives there and we've been waiting to hear whether anything would change here since the fire in London.

"The first anyone seemed to hear about it though was when a notice went up in the lifts, and no one has spoken to my mam about it."