TENANTS of a Southampton tower block are turning the heat up on the council over a “defective” heating system.

They say is has left them cold in the winter and “burning” hot in the summer.

Residents of Sturminster House in Maybush say they pay almost £20 a week for a storage heating system that only runs six months of the year and is “ineffective” in the winter months.

But despite the heater system only working from October to March, some residents say that underfloor heating has also been turned on occasionally over the summer, leaving them in “burning” heat.

Now they are demanding action from the council, and have handed in a petition with the signatures of almost 100 residents from the block’s 120 flats.

Residents are currently charged £19.42 a week for the heating, although it only runs for six months of the year.

But they say the storage heaters only switch on overnight, emitting small amounts of heat during the day before running out entirely by the evening, forcing residents to get out hot water bottles or fork out on electric heaters.

Paying extra for electric heating has plunged some residents into rent arrears.

Tiffany Chick, one of the organisers of the petition, says many residents have fallen into fuel poverty and are suffering from financial difficulty as a result of the charges.

She said: “Some people are having to choose between eating or paying this charge, due to benefit changes hitting them too.

“It’s outrageous – people are having to juggle bills and decide what to go without for a week.”

The tenants are calling on council bosses to install a similar system to the eco-friendly one recently installed at tower blocks in International Way in Weston, Southampton, which have been fitted with new insulation, double glazing and individually-controlled heating.

Petition organiser Michelle Chadwick added: “The lack of control is the big issue. We know it will be expensive work, but it has improved life so much for the people living in the tower blocks in Weston.”

A council spokesman said a review of the current heating network is due to be undertaken and that work is set to be carried out to blocks across the city from next month, once an energy firm has been appointed to carry out work as part of its Energy Company Obligation project.

The spokes-man added: “The council has received no direct reports of fuel inefficiencies at Sturminster House, but has received comments from other residents about rising energy costs. The council is taking the opportunity of the new ECO funding to investigate all available options for its housing stock.

“The council will respond to reported repair issues and if residents believe their heaters are not working efficiently then they are asked to report this to Actionline on 08005 191919 and an engineer will visit to check the system.”