Elderly left stranded by broken-down lift

Beaufort Court residents Bob Edwards, Ernie Ballard, and Kathleen Upton
Beaufort Court residents Bob Edwards, Ernie Ballard, and Kathleen Upton

PENSIONERS in supported accommodation had their Christmas plans scuppered when the only lift in their building was out of order for days over the festive period.

Those unable to manage the stairs, were not able to get out of Beaufort Court, in Beaufort Road, St Leonards, without assistance.

June Ives, 75, who has a heart condition and suffers from arthritis, had to be carried down two flights of stairs in her wheelchair by relatives, in order to attend family gatherings on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

She said: “It was a very stressful and frustrating experience.

“If my family had not have been here, I would have been completely stuck.

“I woke up the next day and I was aching all over, because of how tense I had been.”

Southern Housing Group, which manages the property, sent out engineers when the fault was reported, but resident Jenny Latter was told that they were unable to gain access to the engine room, as the key was locked in the office.

This meant that repairs could not be carried out straight away.

Mrs Latter, 66, and her husband Tony, 75, had their Christmas plans dramatically altered because of the difficulty in Mr Latter, who has a heart condition, climbing the 58 stairs in order to get out of the building.

“It wasn’t a very good start to Christmas,” she said. “My husband found it a real struggle.”

Kathleen Upton, chairman of the tenants’ association, said that she could think of at least 15 residents without families, who would have been left stranded in their homes, after the lift broke down on Christmas Eve.

She said: “We feel totally abandoned to be honest. It seems to me that Southern Housing does not know the needs of older people.”

Around 100 people live at Beaufort Court, many over the age of 90, and more than half with disabilities, according to Mrs Upton.

The residents have experienced problems with the lift over a long period of time, which have continued since it was replaced last year.

Southern Housing Group maintenance director Kevan Allaway said: “Southern Housing Group regrets the inconvenience to residents resulting from an intermittent fault with the lift during the Christmas period.

“Once notified of the problem, the group took extensive and immediate action, sending its contractor to the scheme on three occasions, including Christmas and Boxing Day.

“Unfortunately intermittent mechanical faults, which we cannot prevent, do occur, but in these instances the group aims to respond in an immediate and effective manner with as minimal disruption to our residents as possible.”

Mrs Upton is encouraging tenants to attend a residents’ meeting on Monday (January 9) at 2.30pm in the main lounge, to voice their concerns about this and any other matters.