Broken lift misery for Seaton residents

Wheelchair victim stranded as elevator goes out of action for nearly three weeks at Seaton retirement complex

EMERGENCY supplies of food and medicines had to organised for residents in a block of retirement flats at Seaton - after they were stranded without a lift for nearly three weeks.

The only elevator at Haven Court, in Harbour Road, stopped working on December 20 - and was not fixed until yesterday (Monday).

Several of the 70 home owners living on the upper floors, including a number in wheelchairs, were unable to get out and had to cancel medical and other appointments.

Staff and more mobile residents at the 57-flat complex provided them with food and other essential supplies.

Amongst those worst hit by the breakdown were second-floor residents Brian Pugh, 76, and his wife Heather, 67, who is paralysed down her left side, following a stroke.

Desperate to get to the ground floor so they could go on their pre-booked Christmas hotel break in Bournemouth, they dialled 999 and asked the fire brigade to carry Mrs Pugh’s wheelchair down. But they refused because it was not classed an emergency and the couple had to muster a group of local men to do the lifting.

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Mr Pugh, a retired metallurgist, said they had hoped the lift would be fixed on by the time they got back on December 27 - but it wasn’t and they had to find more volunteers to carry his wife upstairs again.

He said: “We are really angry about this. My wife has stayed indoors ever since because we don’t want people to risk their health carrying her about.

“They are at least two others in wheelchairs here and one lady had to cancel her Christmas arrangements.

“Everyone in the building is very cross and we intend to call an emergency meeting of the directors to ensure it does not happen again.

“We want them to think about a back up system like a chair lift.”

Mrs Pugh added: “What annoyed us was the lift maintenance people did not work over the holidays so there were eight days when nothing was being done to fix it.”

Another elderly residents told the Herald he had been up and down stairs so many times since the lift broke he would soon be fit enough to climb Ben Nevis – “Or dead!” he added.

Haven Court is managed by the Kingsdale Group, based in Portisham.

Spokeswoman Ann Mainwaring said on Friday they were really sorry for the inconvenience.

She said : “Understandably, when there is only one lift and it goes down it causes a few problems.

“It is a good quality Schindler lift, only about 10 years old, and we have a comprehensive maintenance agreement with Jackson Lifts.

Basically the trouble is with the lift drive and they had difficulty getting a new one over the Christmas period – the worst possible time for it to break. Schindler even came to take a look and confirmed no more could have been done to fix it. We are terribly sorry about it and we have asked for a full report to see if there is anything we can learn from this. Hopefully the part will arrive by Monday.

“In the meantime we have been doing as much as we can to help residents and arranged for one of our staff to take food to people on the upper floors.”

* A Kingsdale spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that the lift is now back in action.