Disabled and elderly residents were left ‘trapped’ in a tower block for days after the lift broke down. Tenants with ‘serious mobility issues’ were unable to get out for their shopping or for any fresh air before the lift was fixed four days later, say furious neighbours.
One of the lifts inside a Humphries Court tower block in Whitley Road, Collyhurst, broke down on Thursday morning. The block features two lifts – one serving even-numbered floors, another serving odd-numbered floors – meaning residents on the floors affected by the lift outage were left ‘having to negotiate heavy doors and slippy stairs’, according to frustrated tenants.
Despite a string of complaints from the block’s residents, and promises by North Manchester’s council homes emergency repair centre to get the problem fixed before the weekend, the breakdown was left over the weekend. Repairs were not made until Monday morning, leaving tenants on the affected even floors ‘inside all weekend’.
Anthony Ross, 58, who is looking after 84-year-old mother Mary Ross, 84, following her stint in hospital, said: “It’s unacceptable.
“Anyone that lives on the affected floors can’t get out, no fresh air. It got to Sunday afternoon, and my mum said she’d have to negotiate the stairs.”
Anthony’s elderly mother has ‘serious mobility issues’, and was desperate to leave her sixth floor flat for some exercise and fresh air on Sunday afternoon as advised by her physiotherapist to aid her recovery.
But although Anthony contacted Northwards Housing, which runs North Manchester’s council homes, and Manchester City Council, it took days to resolve the breakdown.
“The emergency repair centre were contacted on a number of occasions regarding the situation, and on Thursday afternoon, residents were told that an engineer would be out to fix the problem soon after 4pm,” Anthony told the Manchester Evening News .
“They were again contacted on Friday, April 8, when the lift was still not working and the residents were told that engineers were waiting for a part, but the lift would be fixed before the weekend, even if it meant working through the night.”
It wasn’t until Monday morning, at around noon, that Anthony says the lift was finally fixed.
“Able-bodied residents have to use the staircase to access a floor where a lift is available, but when bringing heavy bags of shopping, or having deliveries of furniture, are in a very precarious situation having to negotiate several doors and passageways to get to their apartments,” he continued.
“And these slippy painted staircases are impossible for the elderly or disabled to use with walkers or wheelchairs. We’ve got a lot of older people that live here, it’s quite dangerous for them.
“Part of my mum’s physiotherapy is to get up and about. She just wasn’t able to get out because the lift was down. She ended up saying ‘I’ll just have to negotiate the stairs.’”
As half of the residents might have difficulty getting out of the block, if their particular lift is broken, Anthony says the building should be made a priority for emergency repairs. The resident claims this is the ‘third time’ the lift has broken down in the last 12 months, including over the Christmas period, with the repair centre saying it would be New Year before it would be back in action again due to holiday-induced delays.
“It’s unacceptable in a block like this, where there’s one lift that services odd floors and another that services the even floors,” he added.
“Anyone that lives on the affected floors can’t get out, no fresh air. It got to Sunday afternoon, and my mum said she’d have to negotiate the stairs.
“They’re quite modern lifts, it shouldn’t be this difficult to get parts and keep them maintained. There’s no excuse.
“Residents have campaigned to Northwards Housing and Manchester City Council that such blocks, where lifts do not serve every floor, should be made an absolute priority and parts for these lifts should be kept ‘on the shelf’ rather that having to wait for parts to arrive from some distributor.”
A Manchester City Council spokesperson has promised that the lifts will soon serve all floors, saying: “We were alerted to the breakdown of one of the lifts on Thursday last week (April 7) due to a failed part. This part has now been received and we can confirm that the lift has been repaired.
“Refurbishment plans are in place for this financial year that will upgrade the two lifts so that both serve all floors – rather than one servicing odd floors and the other even, which is currently the case.”