Tuesday, February 4, 2014
12:44 PM

People living in a Norwich sheltered housing complex have been left “stranded” in their homes because owners have still not fixed a broken lift.

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The lift at Ashby Court, near Queens Road, stopped working on December 6 and residents say they have heard nothing from management about when it will be back up and running.

Without it, many people are unable to carry out basic tasks such as laundry, shopping or seeing friends.

Cotman Housing Association, the company which owns Ashby Court, has put a series of stairlifts into the building and employed a member of staff for three hours a day to help residents carry washing and shopping.

But many are having trouble using the stairlifts – with one person even falling out – and residents argue that offering help for three hours a day was not solving the problem.

Sylvia Munford, 66, has lived on the third floor of the building for the last two years.

She suffers from MS and without the lift finds it too difficult to get downstairs – even with the staiflifts.

“I have to keep getting on and off them – there are six to get on from here to get to the ground floor. I am more or less stranded up here.”

Rod Alden, who also lives in Ashby Court, said no one was consulted about the stairlifts before they were installed.

He said some residents now cannot get up and down the stairs because they need to hold on to rails on both sides and the stairlifts make that impossible.

“The stairlifts just aren’t suitable for some people.”

The lift had stopped working earlier last year and was out of action for three weeks.

But after nearly two months without a lift, residents are fed up and want to see the problem fixed.

“We have all been filling in the company’s complaint forms,” said Mr Alden. “Management are well aware that people aren’t happy at all – and they are not handling this very well. What the residents would like is for management to sort the problem out and reinstate the lifts as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for Cotman Housing Association said: “We are very sympathetic to the problems experienced by our customers at Ashby Court. Our primary concern, however, has to be the health and safety of the residents. Serious professional concerns were expressed about the safety of the lift, as a result of which we had no alternative but to take it out of service.

“We have commissioned independent structural expert advice about this matter, and are awaiting the findings. In the meantime, we have installed the temporary stairlifts referred to. We accept that these are not ideal and bespoke curved stairlifts are now on order, which we are confident will be easier to operate.

“We also benefit from the valued services of a volunteer, who is a qualified occupational therapist, and has given those affected practical advice about the safe operation of the current stairlifts.

“While we regret the impact and frustrations felt by our customers, we do feel that we have done as much as was practically possible to mitigate against the consequences of a wholly unexpected situation.”

Do you have a news story? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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