Broken lift misery over Christmas

L-R Ruby Lunn (87) and Rae Todd (95) were stranded in their flats for 11 days over Christmas because the lifts were broken at Catley Court, Bexhill. 31/12/13
L-R Ruby Lunn (87) and Rae Todd (95) were stranded in their flats for 11 days over Christmas because the lifts were broken at Catley Court, Bexhill. 31/12/13

Elderly residents of Catley Court in Sutherland Avenue missed out on Christmas because of a broken lift.

Some were stuck in their flats for days with little chance of going out to see family or get outside, while others could not make it upstairs with shopping bags.

The lift in the three storey block, run by Southern Housing Group, broke down on Friday December 20.

Ten days later, on Monday December 30, a lift engineer came to repair it - but it broke down again an hour later leaving those who had ventured downstairs stranded. Further work was done later that afternoon to allow them back upstairs into their homes and the lift finally fixed on Tuesday with occupants “keeping fingers crossed” it would keep working.

Resident Val Ades, 66, told the Observer: “We are absolutely disgusted.

“We have some people who are stuck downstairs and cannot get up, and some stuck upstairs not able to get down for 11 days. It’s a real problem. Just before Christmas people were trying to get their shopping up the stairs, and some people couldn’t get out to see their family. One poor lady hasn’t been out of her flat since the Thursday before Christmas.

“I feel very irate. There are people in their 90s, and it’s them I feel sorry for.”

She rapped Southern Housing Group for its “lack of compassion” saying: “We have got people stuck down here - do you not care? We are very angry residents. We feel badly let down.”

She also claimed a new lift had been promised but that Southern Housing Group had failed to replace it because it hopes to sell the property.

She said that no approach from Southern Housing Group was made during this time and “there was no support at all from them.”

Ruby Lunn, 87, is a top floor resident who was stuck in her flat apart from on Christmas Day when her son came to take her out - he helped her down the stairs and back later but she hurt her arm trying to pull herself up the stairs.

“That was the only time I went out. I was in the rest of the time. Yesterday when I went downstairs all I wanted to do was cry. I was terribly depressed.”

Richard Belcher, Regional Operations Manager, says: “We apologise to all our residents at Catley Court for the inconvenience caused by the broken lift.

“As soon as we knew that the lift couldn’t be fixed for Christmas, because the part needed by the lift engineer was unavailable, we contacted residents to talk to them about arrangements over Christmas and the new year.

“We assessed our residents’ personal circumstances, and also talked to some of their families where they were available, to make sure we could offer support to the residents in any way we could.

“The lift engineers were on site immediately when the problem was reported and have worked throughout Christmas and the new year to try and get the lift working, but without the specific part they need, this has not been possible.

“We apologise once again for the inconvenience. Our contractor continues to do everything they can to get the lift fixed as soon as possible.”