MORE than four years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, 22 blocks of flats within the Bournemouth conurbation are still under investigation for non-compliant cladding and fire safety.

This number in the BCP Council area has risen from 10 since February, 2021.

A BCP spokesperson said: “We are working with the responsible property owners to remediate the issues identified in a timely manner, however where informal interventions do not yield compliance, enforcement action will be taken.”

Action has been taken on two of the 22 buildings in the conurbation – the council says formal notices under the Housing Act 2004 have been served to the private companies operating those sites.

In February, 2021, the council told The Daily Echo that there were ten buildings within the authority's boundaries being investigated for non-compliant cladding and/or their fire safety walls.

Since then, 12 more buildings have been identified and are under investigation - bringing the total to 22 residential blocks of flats. The council would not confirm which residential buildings remained in breach of current regulations.

One of the properties with non-compliant cladding is council-owned Sterte Court in Poole.

The contractors United Living started removing the cladding on Sterte Court in January, 2021, after the council allocated £3.8 million to carry out the work on the two tower blocks in Poole.

Residents living inside the nine-storey blocks have told the Echo of their concerns since they were told their homes were covered in non-compliant cladding.

Sterte Court resident Alfred Grech said: “This should have never happened. We shouldn’t have to go through this because of the wrongdoing in the first place and it annoys me.

“This is completely out of order. It shouldn’t have happened to us and it shouldn’t have happened to those victims [of Grenfell].

“I felt like I was living in a hazardous environment but I was optimistic about the fact that we don’t have gas here - we have electricity - gas would be like a bomb and we would be ready to explode.

“The fact we don’t have gas and that we are only nine storeys means there is much more chance of surviving and that’s what has kept me going.”

The non-compliant cladding was erected on Sterte Court around a decade ago.

Resident Bill Durrant was involved with the original refurbishment and explained that at the time it complied with all relevant safety standards.

Bill said: “At the end of the day the government are to blame, they feed the local government who are dishing the money out and within all of that you had a problem with the leaseholders who had to pay £35,000 each for the work.

“Personally, the government itself is at fault. They haven’t acted quickly enough to make people satisfied and to make them feel safe.

“As regards to the council, they can only do what the Government allows so you’ve got a chopping block and we have to wait which makes it bad for all of the residents.”

Diane and Philip Simmons have lived in Sterte Court for more than 20 years and were worried for their safety when they first found out their building was covered in non-compliant cladding.

They said: “It was frightening, you think oh my gosh will that [Grenfell] happen to us?

“We know it’s got to be done but it’s noisy and we can hear it all day, whether the builders are on the first floor or the ninth floor.

“The council has said the work will finish in January but we doubt that, the builders are only here a few days a week.”

In regards to Sterte Court, the spokesman for BCP said: “Work has commenced to remove the external cladding.

"The existing cladding is being stripped one elevation at a time and we are expecting the full strip on both blocks to be complete within the next four weeks.

"The programme is due for completion in January 2022.”

Councillor Robert Lawton, portfolio holder for homes at BCP Council, said: “We are committed to being open and transparent in our investigations regarding non-compliant cladding and fire safety on buildings higher than 18-metres across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

"These investigations are on-going and take into account many factors, which is why there is not one quick solution for all.

"We are actively engaging with building owners to ensure any cladding issues that are identified are remediated in a timely manner as residents safety is always our major concern”

In regards to when all of the cladding will be removed from buildings over 18-metres high, the council said: “This is part of a larger piece of work not just addressing cladding but also wider fire safety.

“Each building is different based on scale, ownership, nature of the cladding and risk.

"The council is prioritising the most at risk property for full inspection and formal action.

“The council is also working with building owners where they have plans to remediate cladding issues due to their own risk assessments and surveys, without the requirement for formal intervention.”