Elderly and blind shut in for weeks by broken Stevenage sheltered housing lift

The out-of-order lift at Highfield Court in Stevenage. Picture: Celia Fitch

The out-of-order lift at Highfield Court in Stevenage. Picture: Celia Fitch - Credit: Archant

A sheltered housing scheme in Stevenage has been without a working lift for a month – and it isn’t set to be fixed for at least another four weeks.

Residents of Highfield Court – an independent living scheme for the over-60s in Pin Green, run by Stevenage Borough Council – have been without a lift since it went out of order on August 28.

This is particularly troubling for residents living with disabilities such as blindness.

The problem was brought to the Comet’s attention by Tom Ahmed – who said that if there was an emergency, “these people have got no chance”.

He said the problem had been raised with Stevenage Borough Council repeatedly to no avail, and that it felt like “banging your head against a wall”.

Celia Fitch, speaking to this paper on behalf of the block’s residents, said on Friday: “Nobody’s done a thing. I emailed on September 4, and it took them about two weeks to even send an automated reply saying they were looking into it.

“I’m lucky. I’m on the ground floor and can get out. But people on the top floor have got rubbish to dump or washing to do and they can’t get down. Then some of them can’t get down on the chair lift because sometimes it’s switched off.”

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Celia said that after the Comet contacted the borough council about the problem on Thursday afternoon, a council officer had been in touch with her to say a specialist part needed to be ordered for the lift from Finland and that it would be weeks before everything was sorted out.

Councillor Jeanette Thomas, who is responsible for housing, health and older people at the borough council, said: “We are putting support in place to help our tenants at Highfield Court.

“Our caretakers will help with items that need to be carried up and down the stairs while we fix the issue with the lifts.”

The borough council has since posted a notice at Highfield Court advising that the lift is expected to be out of service for another four to six weeks.

The notice, signed by borough council officer Martine Davis, includes an apology to residents and says arrangements are being put in place to help residents with “carrying large items” like shopping, trolleys, washing and rubbish up and down the stairs.

Anyone having problems should call the borough council on 01438 242242 and ask for the M&E team.