RESIDENTS who live in a tower block claim scaffolding left up for years is being used by burglars and creeps to peer into their windows.
Six high-rise blocks on the estate in Grays, Essex, still have temporary structures as a result of a dispute between Thurrock Council and its contractor Axis.
Tenants are furious as the work, which was due to take 18 months, is still unfinished after more than two and a half years.
Some have reported unknown men at their windows in the middle of the night while others say their young children are petrified of them coming in.
Thurrock Council announced the renovations in 2020 saying it would replace ageing windows and Grenfell-style cladding from the outside.
But the scaffolding is still there with no timeline for its removal from six blocks.
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Residents of the 15-floor 1960s towers say the scaffolding has been a magnet for criminal activity in recent months.
Earlier this month, a man was reportedly killed in an incident on the estate.
Essex Police is treating the death as suspected murder with three men and a woman currently on police bail pending further inquiries.
Local Leonie Ward said that while at first the scaffolding was being used as a dangerous climbing frame by children – criminals are now using it to try and find unlocked windows.
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Ms Ward said: "We've had quite a few people using the scaffolding and we had children aged just eight or nine playing on it.
"I used to have to knock on the window and tell the little kids to get down.
"There were ladders so the children could have gone up there and an angry tenant has taken them down.
"But now it's getting a lot worse. That scaffolding has been up far longer than it should have.
"Now people are getting killed by those getting into flats using scaffolding.
"People are trying to push in our windows. I'm on a floor where you couldn't normally access the windows. But now they can.
"Apparently someone was burgled up on the seventh floor because they've climbed on the scaffolding.
"They've got up that high and nicked an electric scooter. That would never usually happen.
"My 13-year-old son woke up a few nights back and said to me: 'Mum, I'm sure there was someone tapping at my bedroom window'.
"When you've got kids, they want to feel safe in their own bedrooms."
Of Thurrock Council, Ms Ward said: "I just feel like they've got themselves into so much debt that they can't complete the work – they're failing left, right and centre.
"They're not the ones living it – we are. And it's like they don't care enough.
"They keep putting other things before us. They keep starting new projects before finishing this project.
"It does make me more anxious now. Whereas I wasn't so much before – I just feel like I can't relax in my own home."
Gary Milsom, 70, has lived in his flat for 33 years.
Mr Milsom, who moved to Grays from Cardiff four decades ago, said: "We don't get any information. If you go down and then you read what Axis is doing, they do the same busy work week-in week-out.
"This is a contract that was supposed to be completed in two years.
"There's been three reports of break-ins from the scaffold just recently."
Despite the financial woes of Thurrock Council, Mr Milsom was adamant that the work must still be completed.
"We know what's happening. The council is £1.5 billion in debt. But the money that was set out for this project was a government loan anyway.
"Now I've got to keep locks and chains on windows and things like that.
"You can't stop them breaking into windows, because if you want to smash them in with a hammer, they can do that.
"But my biggest aggravation is we are living on a building site. That's the main problem.
"And the workers still haven't got the windows or the roof done."
Father-of-three Robert Gordon said: "Since the work stopped, we've been living on a derelict site for six months.
"I'm on the first floor. I have all the workers' lifts around my flat.
"No one will give me an answer when I ask: are they going to get Axis or someone else to do it?
"I have three kids under seven years old. The way up is only secured using cable ties.
"We've got such limited security – just scaffolding secured to other scaffolding using cable ties.
"We've got no cameras, no patrols, no lighting. Nothing."
The stalemate in decision-making at Thurrock also led to the Gordon family struggling with a major mould problem after cladding was not replaced when it was removed and left their block open to the elements.
He said: "We lost everything. We lost sofas and other furniture to the mould.
"We've got to live like this every day and we've lived it for the last three years – and there are no answers from anyone.
"My two-year-old daughter saw someone on the scaffolding.
"She went into a toy box and got a fake gun out before saying 'Daddy, there is a bad man'.
"It's a complete and utter stalemate and the only people who are suffering are the tenants.
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"We just feel like we have been left to rot and become a target."
The Sun has approached Thurrock Council and Axis for comment.
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