“It’s very cold here and it’s making me depressed,” said 78-year-old Hazel Lees, whose apartment building has been left without cladding for nearly four years. 

Hazel, who lives in the Salix Court apartment block in Pendleton, claims her asthma has got significantly worse since work started to remove the cladding on her building in 2020.

Image of Hazel.

Hazel said: “I suffer from asthma and allergies and my eyes are continually watering from the works. You could put a glass on my table and it’ll look misty after a bit.”

Due to the lack of cladding the heat in the building naturally dissipates, leaving Hazel in a “very cold” state for the last three years.

“When my daughters come for a meal on a Thursday they put dressing gowns on because it’s freezing,” she said. 

“I only have one radiator on and it’s costing me £140 a month for that one radiator, I daren’t put the other radiator on because I can’t afford to.”

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, Salix Court and eight other residential buildings in Pendleton have since had their unsafe cladding stripped down.

Image of Salix Court, Pendleton.

Since the works began, the housing association, Pendleton Together, has given out cold weather payments to tenants to help them with bills. However, for Alison, this just isn’t enough.

60-year-old Alison Aitken has lived in her apartment at Beech Court for over thirty years and is “sick to death” of the constant drilling in her building.

Alison claims that her apartment block off Belvedere Road has been “like a building site for nearly ten years.”

Image of Alison.

Alison commented: “God forbid you’re dying and these are your last experiences in the world, hearing constant drilling.

“If you’re working I suppose you’ll miss it but there are people who are retired like me and people who work nights.”

Alison also claims that the cladding in her building off Belvedere Road in Pendleton “has been off for several years.”

“So we’re all still paying through the nose for sky high electricity at all times of the year because the claddings not there,” Alison added.

“I’m still on benefits and a week’s money is taking up every month with electricity bills. It makes purse strings really tight I must admit.

“It’s not that we’re ungrateful for all the fire safety measures that are being taken, it’s just that we’d like to see an end to it this decade.” 

Image of workers on site at Briar Hill Court. Image credit: Ellie Price

Pendleton Together promised that the re-installation of the appropriate cladding on their properties would be completed by 2024.

However, with the current state of the buildings and 2024 well underway, some residents doubt the works will be finished this year.

Alison added: “We need a bit more communication and a clear idea of when this is going to be finished. Throw your recourses at it, finish a block. Don’t jump around. Finish a block then start on another block. 

“It would have been better to pull the flats down and rebuild them at this point. It’s been a very long dreary process and it doesn’t seem like we’ve had a say from the very inception.”

When contacted by Salford Now, Pendleton Together did not give a fixed date as to when the cladding installation will be finished.

Image of Salix Court, Pendleton.

Julie Blagden, Senior Manager for Operations at Pendleton Together, said: “The Programme of Fire Safety Works is a large piece of work and we are sorry that it has taken longer than expected.

“A project of this size is always unpredictable as it is affected by many external factors and we’ve been open with our residents that any information that we have shared has always been the best indicative timescales available at the time. Where we are notified of a change in timescales, we will always tell our residents first.”

It’s safe to say that both Hazel and Alison do not feel they are being listened to by the housing group. In fact, according to Hazel and Alison, the last time they went to confront Pendleton Together face to face, the neighbourhood officers “got up and left”.

Image of Hazel and Alison protesting at Brotherton House, Pendleton.

According to the community union group ACORN, Pendleton Together has shut down two drop-in sessions that Hazel and Alison tried to attend “with no explanation”.

After being shut out of a drop-in session on Thursday April 4 this year, the residents walked to the Pendleton Together offices and plastered them with hundreds of stickers. The stickers read: “5+ years and still no cladding? Pendleton Together, get your act together!”

Image of Hazel and Alison protesting at Brotherton House, Pendleton.

ACORN members in Pendleton are demanding triple financial support for energy bills until the cladding is up and they’re demanding a clear time frame for the fire safety work that is being carried out.

Julie from Pendleton Together claims that their executive director has met with ACORN staff.

Julie added: “We have outlined to them the extensive support available to residents to support them with the rise in the cost of living and answered a number of other questions that they have. Every resident is provided with a minimum payment of £50 throughout the winter months.

“We encourage residents to work with us where they feel that more is needed and will issue additional payments on a case by case basis. ACORN continue to have access to our team to answer any questions on behalf of their members and we have written to them to encourage them to use these methods.

“It is always more effective for their members to contact us individually or through their union than to engage in behaviour which is sometimes inappropriate, disruptive and diverts resources that could be spent supporting other residents with their needs.”

Julie also stated that she was “alarmed to hear of a resident’s health concerns” and urged Hazel to contact their team immediately (on 0300 555 5567).

Julie stated: “There are mitigations in place to prevent brick dust in flats and respite available during all the hours that the work is taking place. However brick dust should not be in any property to the extent reported and if they make contact we’ll investigate at once.”


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