A YEAR since the devastating Grenfell fire, residents of Oxford’s tower blocks say they feel safer as emergency cladding replacement work nears completion.

Today the country will observe a minute’s silence in remembrance of the 72 people who died in the major fire in west London.

As the fall-out from the disaster continues with a public inquiry into what happened ongoing, residents of Windrush and Evenlode towers in Blackbird Leys are nearing the end of an anxious wait for fire-safe homes.

Oxford City Council has confirmed the £1million project to strip flammable cladding and replace it with a safer material on the two blocks is still due to finish next month.

Of the 288 tower blocks nationally needing to be reclad after Grenfell - costing around £400m - the two in Oxford will be among the first to be completed with the council seeking to reclaim costs from the Government.

One ex-Windrush Tower resident said he felt the legacy of the fire was much higher regulations.

Store manager Craig Price, 29, has moved away but his three children still live in the tower block with their mother.

He said: “It has taken a long time but it is not the council’s fault.

“There is a lot more regulation now which is fantastic but it shouldn’t have taken a disaster like that to make people pay attention.

“It’s taken a huge loss of life to get these issues taken seriously and many of us were raising them long before it happened.

“Of course seeing those images a year ago made me think of my own situation and my own children, it was an awful thing to see.

“I know now that if anything happened my kids would have a much better chance of being able to get out if necessary.

“People should be able to feel safe in their own homes.”

But Darren Hazell, chairman of the Oxford Tower Leaseholders Association and the owner of one of the Windrush flats, said he did not think tower block residents would ever be able to feel fully safe.

He added: “I hope the work has given people encouragement but it is hard to forget the images we saw of Grenfell last year.

“The original cladding should never have been used and then we were given conflicting information, for me that was unforgivable.

“It should have been right the first time and we all live in hope it is right this time.”

Confusion reigned in the immediate aftermath of the fire last year with questions raised about whether Oxford’s tower blocks should be evacuated after the cladding failed Government fire tests.

Fire crews were put on standby in case a fire did break out with officers going door-to-door to reassure residents.

After a national shortage of the right material, work to replace the cladding finally got under way in January.

The original cladding had only recently been installed as part of a more than £20million refurbishment of all of Oxford’s tower blocks but needed to be replaced due to stricter rules.

But work has still not begun to replace flammable cladding at the John Radcliffe Hospital’s trauma unit.

Last month Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) Trust admitted that planning work to improve fire safety is still in its early stages while costs remain largely unknown.