Tenants of a soon to be refurbished tower block are ‘relieved’ after a human chain stopped works that would remove their ‘privacy and security’.

Nearly 50 residents of John Walsh and Fred Wigg towers in Leytonstone stood firm outside to block access to Ascham Homes workers intending to remove balcony doors yesterday (September 28) morning .

Ascham Homes gave written notice to tenants that they would be removing the doors, which they consider to be a fire escape hazard but tenants say neighbours would be able to access each other’s homes and they had not been properly consulted on the works.

Police were called at 10am to keep the peace as the protesters denied Ascham Homes officers access to the stairs and lifts leading up the blocks.

Deanna Donovan, 48, lives nearby in Grove Green Road came to support the tenants.

She said: “We formed a human chain on their private property, the workers couldn’t pass us or touch us or we could call the police so they stopped trying.

“There is a democratic way of managing this situation, we don’t want to be confrontational, we just want to be heard.

“This has been going on for a week now and people are exhausted and emotionally drained.

“But we will stay here until we know works can’t go ahead.”

Yvonne Brown, 49, has lived in John Walsh tower with her sons for over 25 years.

She said: “It was really well organised today.

“When the fire happened a couple of years ago and people were evacuated thieves went into their homes and robbed them.

“Apart from that incident I have heard of nothing bad happen here.”

A four year project to refurbish Fred Wigg and John Walsh towers is set to begin in the next year.

It will see a cut from 234 social housing units to 200.

Ms Brown continued: “I think Ascham Homes want people to feel unsafe, so that they leave the blocks quicker.

“They know people will do anything to protect their kids, even leave their homes or move out of the borough- it is sad.”

After a meeting with Ascham Homes and the tenants’ and residents’ association (TRA) overseen by police it was agreed that Ascham Homes would remove workers from the site.

Former assistant director of housing for Hackney council, Peter O’Kane, who lives in Ferndale Road, was at the negotiation meeting.

“The contractors agreed to pull off of the site which comes as a relief to residents of the towers”, he said.

“We believe we have an open shut case and the tenants need to be properly consulted before they can try to continue the works.

“Their own consultants know there are other options and it is now time to bring them to the table.”

Ascham Homes have been approached for comment.