Elderly and disabled residents ‘trapped’ in apartments for days after lift broke down

One of the lifts inside a Humphries Court tower block in Collyhurst, Manchester, broke down last Thursday morning, prompting a string of complaints from the block’s residents

Mary Ross, 84, pictured at her home in Humphries Court

Eldlerly and disabled residents were “trapped” in their apartment block, unable to go out for groceries or fresh air for days after the lift broke down.

One of the lifts inside a Humphries Court tower block in Collyhurst, Manchester, broke down last Thursday morning, prompting a string of complaints from the block’s residents.

The tower has two lifts, one serving even-numbered floors, another serving odd-numbered floors. This meant residents on the floors affected by the lift outage were left “having to negotiate heavy doors and slippy stairs”, frustrated tenants told the Manchester Evening News.

But despite the outage affecting tenants with “serious mobility issues”, and promises by North Manchester’s council homes emergency repair center to get the problem fixed before the weekend, the breakdown was left.

Repairs were not made until Monday morning, leaving tenants on the affected floors even ‘inside all weekend’.

Mary Ross, who was “trapped” in her apartment for days as a result of the lift outage


Steve Allen/MEN Media)

Anthony Ross, 58, who is looking after 84-year-old mother Mary Ross, 84, following her stint in hospital, said the lengthy wait for repairs was “unacceptable.”

“Anyone who lives on the affected floors can’t get out, no fresh air,” he said. “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 center 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 said.

Humphries Court on Whitley Road in Collyhurst, north Manchester


MEN Mean)

“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 stairs 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 center 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 said.

“They’re quite modern lifts, it shouldn’t be this difficult to get parts and keep them maintained. There’s no excuse.”

Residents have now campaigned to Northwards Housing and Manchester City Council that such blocks, where lifts do not serve every floor, should be made an absolute priority for repairs.

“Parts for these lifts should be kept ‘on the shelf’ rather than having to wait for parts to arrive from some distributor,” Anthony said.

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.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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