Stuck at home over Christmas

Mobility impaired Heather Herbert who is unable to leave her flat in Baslow Court because of a broken down lift. December18th 2013 E51019P
Mobility impaired Heather Herbert who is unable to leave her flat in Baslow Court because of a broken down lift. December18th 2013 E51019P

Elderly residents have been left housebound and distressed after the lift in their block of flats broke – and it’s doubtful it’ll be fixed in time for Christmas.

The small block of flats in Baslow Road houses a number of older people and with the lift having been out of operation for more than a week, many of them have struggled to leave their homes in the lead up to Christmas.

Heather Herbert is one resident who has been made housebound by the malfunction. The 85-year-old said, “I have had to cancel an appointment to have my eyes tested and I couldn’t go to see my granddaughter’s school’s carol service last night. It is very distressing.

“I’m not so bad because I can get around my flat but just need a wheelchair to get out of the block. My neighbour has a heart problem and has to go for regular blood tests – it takes her about ten minutes to go up the stairs and makes her ever so worn out.

“I think one of my biggest objections, though, is the lack of communication we’ve received. The managing agent has treated it almost casually. There’s been engineers out to look at the lift but you get the impression none of them know what to do.

“I’ve rung the managing agent to find out what’s going on and they said they would ring me back, but haven’t.”

Her daughter, Liz Silvester, added, “I think it’s atrocious that these elderly residents should be stuck like this, especially in the week before Christmas and without any knowledge as to when it will be fixed.”

Ascent, the lift contractors for the building, confirmed an engineer has been to assess the lift. A spokesperson said, “We’ve sent a technician out and sent the quotation for the repair to the managing agent. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of legislation to go through before we can be given the go-ahead and because it is quite a costly repair, there is a consultation process with the residents.

“Obviously, that has no bearing on us – we’ve done what we can, diagnosed the problem and sent the quotation.

“Normally the repair would take one to two days but it’s waiting for the delivery of parts that’s the problem at this time of year, so I’ve told the managing agent to allow seven to ten days, but that would then be right on top of Christmas.”

The managing agent, Stiles Harold Williams, echoed the need for time to complete a lengthy consultation process but revealed it may not be as long as first thought.

Charles Bramly, head of residential property for Brighton and Eastbourne, said, “We were first notified that the lifts were out of order on Wednesday, December 11 and have been in regular contact with Ascent Lifts since. The fault was diagnosed yesterday and a quotation sent to us this morning (18th).

“The delay has had a regrettable impact on the residents’ convenience, and particularly on those unable to use the stairs. Fortunately, we have agreed a lower quote with Ascent Lifts that means that we do not need to incur the timescales involved with the Section 20 process. Therefore, we have instructed Ascent Lifts to order a required part and to undertake the work as soon as possible.”

Even with the green light being given this week, there will continue to be a further delay while Ascent wait for the necessary part to be delivered, meaning it’s still unlikely the lift will be fixed before Christmas Day.

Heather added, “To be honest, I would be going up in smoke if I couldn’t get out to see my family over Christmas. Fortunately, somebody has let my daughter borrow an Escape chair, which has wheels to get you up stairs, but I’m not looking forward to using that at all. Had that not become available, I was considering calling the fire brigade and asking them to help me get out over my balcony.”