Combustible cladding discovered on Billingham high-rise flats

Kennedy Gardens in Billingham
Image caption The cladding is thought to have been added to the buildings during a revamp in 2014

Combustible cladding has been found on high-rise flats on Teesside.

Landlords Thirteen Group confirmed the three blocks at Kennedy Gardens in Billingham were partially clad with "grade-three" cladding.

The social housing company said it was safe enough for residents to remain in their homes, and action to remove the cladding would begin on Monday morning.

Resident David Clixby, 58, who lives by himself on the eighth floor, said he was "not really scared".

He said: "I wasn't totally shocked when I found out.

"I'm on the eighth floor, but we have smoke alarms in the corridors and in each flat is linked directly to the concierge service, so I feel safe enough."

'I wouldn't move out anyway'

Mr Clixby said the hundreds of residents were told at about 22:15 BST on Friday that the site had failed safety tests.

He said he "wouldn't want to move out anyway", and Stockton Borough Council providing 24-hour security had made him "feel safe".

The cladding is thought to have been added to the buildings during a revamp in 2014.

Thirteen Group chief executive Ian Wardle said: "We acted immediately to ensure the safety of our residents by checking and double checking the nature of the cladding on our buildings, where it exists.

"We had specified that the cladding should be fire-retardant, and following tests that have shown that this is not the case, work to remove the cladding will begin as soon as physically possible, and contractors will be on site from first thing Monday morning."

Cladding on 27 tower blocks in 15 council areas in England has failed fire safety tests, the government says.

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