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Elderly ‘trapped’ in homes for months as lift breaks at flats

Jean Edwards, a resident at Sharman Beer Court in Thame

Jean Edwards, a resident at Sharman Beer Court in Thame

Elderly residents in Thame have been ‘trapped’ in their homes for weeks after a lift broke at a block of flats.

Residents have described how they have only been able to leave flats at Sharman Beer Court when family members are available to carry them down the stairs, while others have to find someone to carry shopping and laundry for them.

A consultation is being held by Sanctuary Housing, the firm which manage the building, on the replacement lift to be put in.

But the lift has been broken for around eight weeks and once the consultation ends it will be at least three months before the new one can be up and running, a situation Thame’s MP described as ‘unacceptable’.

Jean Edwards, 85, would normally leave her first-floor flat daily. Since the lift broke, she has only been able to go out once a week when two people come to carry her down in a wheelchair.

She said: “I always went for my walk every day, whatever the weather, even if it was just to get my newspaper.

“I know they’re getting things moving now but nothing has been done yet.

“I’m lucky I’ve got a family who can come to take the rubbish down and help me.

“I have been here 16 years and I have never been through anything like this.”

Ms Edwards’ daughter-in-law, Veronica Edwards, said Jean has been feeling ‘very down’ because the situation.

Veronica said: “There are a lot of people that are relying on other people to sort them out or else they’re stuck.

“There’s a carol service and film night being held downstairs. Unless we’re here to take her down she can’t go to those.”

Another resident, Sandra Whitlock, is able to use the stairs but needs someone to carry things for her, such as laundry.

Miss Whitlock, 66, said: “It’s very inconvenient. If it wasn’t for other people I would be stumped.”

A 14-day consultation is being held on what sort of lift, which will be paid for by the residents, will be put in. This follows discussions on what to do about the broken lift.

The current consultation period has been cut from 30 days to 14, but John Howell MP, who visited the site last week, says the whole process is taking far too long.

Mr Howell said: “I have got enormous sympathy for the people that are there and I’m not surprised that they contacted me.

“The situation is unacceptable. Really it’s a situation that should have been dealt with ages ago.

“It seems like terrible bureaucracy to have to go through all this. It requires cutting through the red tape and speeding the process up.”

Mr Howell has written to Sanctuary Housing asking them to ‘get a move on’ and says he will continue to put pressure on them.

He also hopes the lift can be put in sooner than the 12 to 23 week estimates given by different companies.

The Sanctuary Group said it appreciates the time taken for consultation can be an ‘inconvenience’ for residents, which is why they agreed to shorten the timescale to 14 days.

A group spokesman said: “We will continue to work closely with the residents to ensure the matter is resolved as quickly as possible.”

 

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