Cold comfort for Salford residents struggling to stay warm after unsafe cladding was removed

Report by Granada Reports correspondent Tim Scott, ITV News

Families are facing skyrocketing heating bills and struggling to stay warm after unsafe cladding was removed from a tower block and has not yet been replaced.

Residents at Salix Court and Holme Court in Salford had their buildings stripped fourteen months ago. 

But the cladding had acted to retain the heat in the building and now it has been removed the residents are freezing.

It has made life tough for people who say they have been forced to wear dressing gowns around the house, before going to bed early, just to keep warm. 

The management company has apologised, and say it has committed to providing more financial support to help pay the bills.

Resident Robert Walsh is facing skyrocketing heating bills.

Robert Walsh gets by on sickness benefits and says he's now struggling to pay the extra £80-a-month for electricity to heat his flat.

"When we had the cladding on it was nice and warm. Now we have to have the heating on all the time, but we can't afford it - it's too dear," said Robert, who has lived in the flats for 11 years.

Salix Court in Salford Credit: ITV News

Lawyer Matthew Conrad is helping residents take Pendleton Together to court. He says the delay in refitting cladding has led to a host of problems.

He said: "It's very bad for the people living in these flats. It's putting a big strain on their mental health.

"Initially fire risk was the main issue people were complaining about, that's been taken off but as a result of that you've got the excess cold because the heating system relied on cladding to retain heat."

Salix Court in Salford Credit: ITV News

Housing association Pendleton Together manages the flats.

It provided extra payments to cover some of the cost of higher fuel bills and a 24 hour waking watch of two fire marshals.

The Housing group also says the unsafe cladding will be replaced with a safe alternative, sprinklers and heat alarms.

"Pendleton Together knows that this has been, and remains, a difficult time for many of our residents.

"Our primary aims are to keep them safe, supported and informed in their homes throughout the programme of fire safety works.

"We do this through safety mitigations, advice and signposting, regular communications on multiple channels, dedicated staff members and, where appropriate, financial help.

"We are extremely sorry to hear of any distress our residents are experiencing and urge anyone who needs support to contact us at once."

Listen to this episode of ITV Granada Reports' podcast From The North: The cladding scandal - what is it like to live in an apartment classified as 'unsafe'?