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Lift nightmare of 'trapped' pensioners

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:05 22 October 2010

JONATHAN REDHEAD

A group of pensioners in Lowestoft say they are living like prisoners in their own homes after the lift in their council-run sheltered accommodation broke down.

A group of pensioners in Lowestoft say they are living like prisoners in their own homes after the lift in their council-run sheltered accommodation broke down.

Some people living at Manor Court, in Dukes Head Street, have been confined to their flats for almost two months since council officials condemned the single lift at the three-storey building.

Many say their lives have been made a nightmare, as they cannot manage two flights of stairs to leave the building or use the lounge and washing areas.

But the pensioners say they have been told by officials from Waveney District Council that it could take another three months until the broken lift is replaced.

Last night, the council said it was doing all it could to get the lift repaired and there was a stairlift for residents to use, while wardens had been asked to help people up and down stairs.

However, the stairlift has been labeled as "useless" by some who say it often stops halfway up the stairs and needs constant battery recharging.

Arthur and Betty Allison, both 80, who have lived on the top floor since August, say they cannot go out much as they have health problems and struggle with the stairs.

"It's just a stress all the time and hassle we don't need," said Mrs Allison. "We have to plan everything ahead now and make lists because we can't get out as much. We're rather upset about it."

As well as rent, they pay Waveney a monthly service charge and say they are not getting value for money.

One woman at the building moved to live with her daughter for five weeks as she could not manage the stairs, while 80-year-old Jackie Gillard, a wheelchair-user, has not left her flat since the lift broke down.

June Woodhouse, 67, who lives in the building and acts as a carer for her 94-year-old mother who also lives there, has written to Waveney MP Bob Blizzard about the situation.

She says Waveney should install another stairlift but has been told it is too expensive.

"It's like being a prisoner in your home," she said.

Last night, Waveney spokesman Phil Harris said the council had to shut down the lift as it was unsafe.

"Replacing the original lift is not a straightforward process, although we have identified a contractor who can build and fit the very specific parts needed for the new lift," he said.

"We are pleased to confirm that the parts have been ordered but we have no control over this particular timescale.

"We appreciate how frustrating this must be, but we are working very hard to resolve this situation as soon as we possibly can.

"We are very sorry for any inconvenience this has caused, but we do have a stairlift in place to all floors at Manor Court to provide help for our residents."


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