Southampton City Council is set to take British Gas to court after fire safety issues were identified at eight tower blocks across the city.

Residents at three blocks of flats in Thornhill and five blocks in International Way, Weston say the news has made them question the safety of the buildings.

But council bosses stand firm by the fact the flats are safe.

The fire service also said fire safety measures are in place.

According to the council, British Gas has so far declined to rectify the issues.

These relate to work carried out by the company and its contractors in the past decade to make the building warmer and more environmentally friendly.

British Gas has denied this.

Daily Echo: The tower blocks at International Way are among those being inspectedThe tower blocks at International Way are among those being inspected (Image: Simon Woodward)

'I want to get out'

The affected blocks are Meredith Towers, Dumbleton Towers and Hightown Towers in Thornhill and Havre Towers, Hampton Towers, Rotterdam Towers, Oslo Towers and Copenhagen Towers in International Way.

Amanda Harris has lived in Hampton Tower in International Way since 2019.

"I suffer from anxiety and this news has made us panic," she said.

Amanda said she, her husband, and their 20-year-old son are desperate to leave.

She said: “The news doesn’t make me feel very happy because it can be dangerous, especially further along the line.

“We are trying our utmost to get out of here.

“It’s quite dangerous to think that if there is a fire, there may be issues in the building.

“I am anxious now and want to get out.”

In a letter to residents, Jamie Brenchley, director of housing at the council, said the issues identified in ongoing inspections revolve around the installation of windows, the external wall insulation system and fire stopping requirements.

They relate to works previously completed by British Gas as part of the energy efficiency programme.

The letter reads: “From the current ongoing inspections, issues have been identified with the condition of the building relating to those works.”

'There are many questions'

Two meetings were held by the council earlier this week to share the outcomes of the inspections so far.

But for Kevin Olding, conclusive answers were not forthcoming.

Daily Echo: Exterior inspections have taken place at International WayExterior inspections have taken place at International Way (Image: Newsquest)

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The 55-year-old Rotterdam Tower resident said: “We are still no better off knowing what is going on after that meeting. There are many questions that need to be asked.

“Residents are not impressed.

“It has all been brushed under the carpet until now.”

He added: “The council is still saying the flats are safe.

“They are saying this, but the work has taken so long, people don’t believe them.

“This is not helping my mental health as I don’t know what is going on.

“How safe are the flats?”

'Significant' costs ahead 

Southampton City Council is taking on the remedial works.

Daily Echo: Exterior inspections have taken place at International WayExterior inspections have taken place at International Way (Image: Newsquest)

Although the full costs of the works are unconfirmed, they are expected to be significant.

A spokesperson from Southampton City Council said: “Until the full scope of works and the programme is developed, we will be unable to clarify the likely scale of the costs involved to rectify the issues.

“Although we cannot confirm what the costs will be, the council will work to seek to recover as much of the costs as possible from British Gas.”

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British Gas denies the claims it has declined to carry out remedial works.

According to the company, the council's letter to residents of Thornhill and International Way is "inaccurate".

A spokesperson said: “This is a complex matter relating to building works carried out between 2012 and 2016 and our experts have been fully cooperative and on site to carry out inspections which are ongoing.

“We can confirm that at no time have we failed to engage with Southampton City Council (SCC), and we are working with them to understand the basis and responsibility for the concerns raised.

“We cannot comment further, other than to confirm that we will continue to work closely with SCC.”

Fire service involved

Daily Echo:

Shoana Pritchard, who has lived in Hampton Tower for over a year, is reassured the council is investigating the issues.

The 45-year-old said: “I feel safe here, but the council should make sure everything gets checked to make the building safe and comfortable.

“The council does try to make sure the tenants are safe, happy, and settled.

“I am a bit concerned about potentially being moved, especially if we aren’t going to know what is happening. There are parents in this block and they have kids to think about.”

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) confirmed it has also carried out inspections at the affected buildings.

The service is working with the council to provide advice and support so that required improvements are "completed in a reasonable time frame".

It is keen to reassure residents that there are several fire safety measures in place, such as sprinklers, fire doors and monitored smoke detection systems.