FEAR and bewilderment has gripped families in Blackbird Leys following the revelation that the estate’s two towers are covered in cladding deemed a fire risk.

On Monday it emerged that samples sent by Oxford City Council to the Building Research Establishment had failed fire safety tests and will now be replaced.

It follows more than 12 months of refurbishment work on Windrush and Evenlode Towers as part on an ongoing £20m project to improve Oxford’s tower blocks, in which the cladding itself had cost £1.4m to install.

Windrush Tower resident Craig Price, 28, who dealt with a radiator fire in his flat last week after alarms failed to trigger the fire brigade, said the project had been ‘a plethora of errors’.

He said: “The smallest detail could cause the biggest damage. There’s talk of protests and everything; people want the council to admit they were wrong.

“The cladding needs to be off by the end of the week.”

Partner Carol Anne added: “I have two children on the 11th floor. If there was a fire I feel we would struggle to get out. It’s terrifying.”

On Monday morning at about 11.50am a fire alarm sounded in a communal area of Windrush Tower, triggering a call to Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

In such an event alarms only sound on the three closest floors, leading to fears that in a serious incident they might not be heard.

A 31-year-old mother-of-two on the ninth floor, who asked not to be named, said: “We couldn’t hear it on my floor. People were bewildered as to what was going on.

“If a fire breaks out on the third floor and we’re in our beds sleeping, how are we supposed to hear it towards the top of the towers?”

Richard Webb, who lives on the 11th floor, added: “They are saying nobody needs to be evacuated; obviously it plays on our minds.”

Yesterday Prime Minister Theresa May called for a ‘major national investigation’ into potentially flammable cladding on high-rise towers across the UK.

Some 95 tower blocks in 32 English local authorities have now failed tests, meaning cladding may be ‘fire-retardant’ but could still catch light.

Yesterday officers from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue service spoke to occupants at some of the 120 flats across Windrush and Evenlode, which each have 15 floors.

It followed a public meeting on Monday in which chief fire officer Simon Furlong explained to residents that Oxford’s fire alarms would only sound on floors immediately above and below the source, as other safety measures installed - such as sprinklers and fire breaks - are believed to be sufficient to contain most fires, and evacuating the whole building could hamper firefighters trying to get in.

Residents were also told it would not be necessary to evacuate the towers, although some asked to be moved anyway while Oxford City Council ‘corrected its mistakes’. No timeframe has yet been set for the work.

Asked by the Oxford Mail if the council would consider re-housing tenants, Stephen Clarke, head of housing and property services, only repeated it was ‘not necessary’.

He said:“Together with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, we have assessed that the Evenlode and Windrush Towers do not present a particular risk that warrants additional safety measures over and above those we have in place. As a result, it is not necessary to evacuate.”