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‘Not good enough!’ Norwich sheltered housing residents face six month wait for lift repair

PUBLISHED: 07:54 28 March 2014 | UPDATED: 07:54 28 March 2014

Resident Sylvia Munford, who has MS, at the broken lift by her flat on the third floor of Ashby Court. Picture: Denise Bradley

Resident Sylvia Munford, who has MS, at the broken lift by her flat on the third floor of Ashby Court. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

Elderly residents in a Norwich sheltered housing complex are becoming prisoners in their own homes, isolated and depressed because of a broken lift that is not due to be replaced for another six months.

The lift at Ashby Court, near Queens Road, has been out of action since December 6, leaving many of the 35 people who live there unable to carry out day to day tasks such as laundry and shopping.

Cotman Housing, which owns the property, has told residents a new lift is being fitted, but that the work could take six months to complete.

Rod Alden, who lives in one of the flats with his disabled wife, said people have had enough.

“They should have done something about this ages ago,” he said.

“They have spent three months talking about a new lift, which is a long time. People aren’t getting out any more – I think they are getting depressed.”

He said one resident left the housing complex to go to Priscilla Bacon Lodge for respite care and was unable to return, as he couldn’t get back to his first-floor flat.

“I am having to use a walking stick, because I had a hip operation and all the walking up and down the stairs just made my leg go,” said Mr Alden.

“I was pushing my wife in her wheelchair the other day and I said to her ‘this is too much, I can’t do this any more’.”

City councillor Emma Corlett said residents had contacted her about the situation at Ashby Court.

“One resident who has MS explained that she can hardly get out of her flat without access to a lift, that her quality of life has reduced greatly and the increased isolation has led her to become severely depressed,” she said. “I heard from a number of residents who are either struggling to get out at all or who are going out far less than they would like.

“Some residents also expressed their concern about safety and wonder how so many immobile and disabled residents could be safely evacuated from the upper floors in the event of a fire.”

Sylvia Munford has lived on the third floor of the building for two years. She relies on her mobility scooter to go out, but since the lift stopped working, has found it difficult to get down to street level to access it.

“I have been getting out about once a week, but it is a real effort,” she said. “I think everybody is fed up.”

A spokesman for Cotman Housing said: “Despite much investigation, we have been unable to identify a repair solution to the existing lift such that it can be guaranteed as safe for future use.

“We have therefore taken the decision to replace the lift with one of a different operating system, at the same time strengthening the lift shaft with a steel lining.

“The order for the work was placed last week.

“We have tried to negotiate with the manufacturer to shorten the timeline, and have been informed they will try their best to bring the work forward, but cannot guarantee it because of the complexity of the work involved”

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