Residents of Normandie Tower in Norwich, including Lorna Kirk, have had constant problems with the new lifts.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Tenants hit out at emergency response to lifts getting stuck in Norfolk flat block

Thursday, December 20, 2012
10.41 AM

Concerns have been raised about emergency call-out responses to free people trapped in two lifts installed during a £174,000 project.

Residents of Normandie Tower in Norwich have had constant problems with the new lifts.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYResidents of Normandie Tower in Norwich have had constant problems with the new lifts. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Norwich City Council informed tenants of Normandie Tower, in Rouen Road, that an engineer would attend within an hour and the fire service would be called, if necessary, to free anyone trapped.

But tenants say there have been longer waits, including one occasion where an engineer travelled from north London as firefighters did not have the expertise required to release the carriage.

Hertfordshire-based contractor Omega City Lifts said it informed the council before the contract was awarded that it would “endeavour” to respond within the time, depending on where its engineers were based. The city council says its understanding was that Omega could fulfil the terms of the contract. Kevin Hayes, chairman of the Norwich Leaseholders’ Association, said: “It’s no good having lift people in Welwyn Garden City if you expect a response in an hour. You’ve got to have a local operator.”

There have been 11 breakdowns recorded since the work finished on November 28, 2011, and the contract has yet to be signed-off by the council.

Residents of Normandie Tower in Norwich, including Faiz Ahmed and Lorna Kirk, have had constant problems with the new lifts.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYResidents of Normandie Tower in Norwich, including Faiz Ahmed and Lorna Kirk, have had constant problems with the new lifts. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

An independent consultant examined the lifts in the summer and noted 36 minor faults and discrepancies during a visual inspection, although it was recorded that both lifts operated satisfactorily.

Firefighters are unable to manually winch down a lift carriage, but changes are proposed to enable this.

Omega says it has responded to the items listed in the report ready for a final inspection. The company adds the 11 breakdowns also include calls to deal with vandalism. The £174,393 contract cost has been divided between the council, which has 68 tenants, and the 24 leaseholders. Tenant Lorna Kirk, speaking of when the lifts were out of action, said: “People have fallen down stairs.”

Roy Prestedge, Omega City Lifts service manager, said: “The council’s response times for emergency call-outs was responded to by our salesman before the contract was awarded, stating that we would endeavour to respond within the time, subject to where our engineers were at the time of the incident.”