CONCERNS have been raised over the safety of windows in Southend tower blocks after it was revealed panes of glass could fall out.

South Essex Homes, which manages the flats for Southend Council, has put screws in to stop the windows opening more than a few inches, even though the double glazing was only fitted about five years ago.

The housing association says residents will face eviction if they defy the move, which is also designed to prevent tenants throwing bulky items from the windows.

Many tenants in the notorious Quantock flats, one of those affected, are fuming that they can’t get enough air in or clean their windows and have demanded they are replaced so they can use them properly.

Rachel Ringer, 85, on the fourth floor of the building, which has 105 flats, has avoided the order because she owns her own flat.

She said: “I was told it was to stop people throwing things out the window.

“There have been TVs, videos and even stews thrown out while I have been here, but there was one man on the 13th floor cleaning his window when the whole pane fell out and luckily he went backwards or would have gone with it.”

She said the council said she would have to comply but, as a leaseholder, she felt she could resist it.

Rose Chapman, 81, who lives on the third floor, complained to South EssexHomes, after her windows were restricted. She said: “You can only open it two notches now.

“There is no way I can properly clean the outside of the windows now and in the summer it will get too hot.

“They have warned us if we remove the screws we could be thrown out.

“All they have said is they will now clean the windows twice a year, instead of once, so we don’t have to bother, but who only cleans their window twice a year?

“I have said if the windows are not safe, they should replace them so we can use them properly.”

In response to Mrs Chapman’s complaint, Bradley Staff, of South Essex Homes, replied: “The restrictors were required to be fitted due to health and safety reasons.

“It has been found that should the windows be reversed unevenly or left in a reversed position, there is a small risk the pivot pin holding the window may be damaged, resulting in the window becoming unsafe.”

He added, following feedback from residents concerned about being unable to clean their windows, the annual clean at Quantock had been increased to twice yearly.

A South Essex Homes spokeswoman said: “The restrictors prevent the windows being pivoted beyond the designed normal ventilation position, but still allow for normal ventilation.

“There are no actual faults with the windows, but this has been introduced as a precautionary measure for the safety of residents, which is paramount.

“All residents were advised of the need to have these restrictors fitted.”

SOUTH Essex Homes has only just brought in the restriction, despite a man nearly plummeting from the 13th floor when a pane fell out nearly four years ago.

The man was washing the window of his flat, in Quantock when it fell 13 floors and smashed on the ground.

Luckily the stool the man was standing on fell backwards and he avoided injury.

It was at least the second time a window fell from the 13th floor. In a previous incident, it happened above the main walkway into the building.

Luckily, the woman managed to catch the pane of glass as it slipped out of its frame.