Devon

Plymouth Mount Wise towers' cladding 'like Grenfell'

Mount Wise towers Image copyright Derek Harper
Image caption The Mount Wise towers are a major landmark for the Devonport area

Three high rise blocks in Plymouth are to have cladding removed after it emerged it is made of similar material to Grenfell Tower.

Tests on the Mount Wise Tower estate's blocks were carried out in the wake of the huge blaze in west London, which left at least 79 people dead.

A public meeting due to be held earlier was called off after it emerged that the cladding is to be removed.

Plymouth Community Homes (PCH) said it was taking immediate precautions.

More on the towers, and other Devon news

"We are completing further checks to ensure all fire doors remain in place and closers are fitted and operating as they should be," it said.

"We are installing additional fire protection to the interiors to the stairwells of each tower today as an extra fire safety measure."

'Peeved at risk'

Brian Stevens, 70, who has lived at Mount Wise's Lynher House for 35 years, said that until PCH issued letters outlining the concerns residents felt safe.

"We are really peeved at the risk we have been put in, the cladding in this building went up 16 years ago and we had no idea it was unsafe," he said.

"When I saw the news about Grenfell Tower it broke my heart to see all those people who died and those who had lost their homes, and now I'm thinking that could've been me."

Mr Stevens, a retired traffic warden, said there had been two small fires on the estate recently, but were both contained within individual flats.

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Media captionResident Chloe Brewster speaks about a fire at a Plymouth tower block in February

PCH is also installing heat detectors into every flat and a sprinkler system in each of the towers.

In total across the UK, 11 residential high-rise buildings in eight local authority areas, including Mount Wise, have been found to be covered in combustible cladding.

The panelling is described as aluminium-coated with a polyethylene core. It was rated as category three under test conditions, on a scale where zero is the highest safety score and three the lowest.

Luke Pollard, the newly-elected Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, had called for "urgent action" to make the buildings safe, and said the government should foot the bill.

He said: "In times of national emergency, and this is one of them, it is right the government provides the extra support that is needed."

The three red, blue and green Mount Wise towers are a major landmark for the Devonport area.

The 16-storey towers were designed and built in the early 1960s.

The cladding is expected to be removed in the next few days.