Elderly, sick, and disabled residents have been trapped in their homes for a week and face more weeks of difficulty due to both lifts at 18-floor Arlington House being out of action.
One of the lifts had been condemned in October 2019 and taken out of action with residents having to use the remaining lift.
Works began in April last year to replace the condemned lift with more works scheduled for the second lift. The first of the new lifts was brought back into action last December and works commenced, and are still under way, to replace the second lift.
However, last Wednesday the working lift failed and since then residents have been faced with using the stairs or, for those who can’t, being trapped in their homes.
On Tuesday (March 14) the problem was discovered to be a burnt-out fuse on the incoming electrical supply that powers the lift but new lift equipment has to be made to order meaning the lift is unlikely to be running again until April 5.
One Arlington leaseholder said: “There are a good number of elderly and disabled people living in the 142 flats spread over 18 floors. Without a lift, they are effectively trapped in their flats.
“The able bodied are forced to traipse up and down the stairs to go about their daily business getting to work or going shopping – and a twice daily endurance for those with children to get to school.
“There had been a few problems with the new lift over the few months that it has been operational – some residents complaining of the lift running slowly and juddering. There has also been an incident of residents being trapped in the new lift and KFRS attending to release them.
“The management company, Parsons, Son & Basely, has been forced to bring in contractors to provide an out of hours ”concierge service” for trapped residents. The contractors are assisting residents by carrying buggies up the stairs and going out and purchasing food items for those whose food stocks have run out.
“Those firms who would normally deliver groceries or takeaway food to the flat residents are unable/unwilling to do so without the lift. Any such deliveries are again reliant on being carried up the stairs by the out of hours service provider.
“It really is a nonsense that a brand new lift, designed to last 25 years, should be out of action after three months of use. It is even more ridiculous that the blown fuse took a week to discover. Surely the fuses should have been the first place to look?
“’The new lifts have cost £680,000 and the works have been on-going for a year. Progress has been very slow and currently there are no lifts at all.”
Residents association A Better Arlington is busy gathering information to understand who is most affected and what they need.
In a message to residents ABC say: “Whether you are a renter or a leaseholder the loss of the lift for a month is very bad value considering the rent/ service charges we are paying. We are making it clear to (landlord) Freshwater that the large costs involved in fixing the lift must not be added to the service charges.
They add: “There has been an amazing community response to this crisis in the building.”
It is understood that PS&B will deal with requests for alternative accommodation for residents who are unable to cope without the lifts, although there is some confusion over whether arrangements are in place for this.
Margate Central ward councillor Rob Yates, who is a former tenant, has also stepped in, contacting Thanet District Council, Arlington residents association, Kent Fire and Rescue, Freshwater and management company PS&B.
He said: “”The Arlington lifts have been out of action since March 8th and will be out until at least April 5th. This is terrible news for the residents, especially those who struggle with stairs.
“After speaking to TDC officers, Kent Fire and Rescue, PS&B, the Arlington house residents association and Freshwater, letters have been hand delivered to all residents giving them an update from a councillor perspective.
“I would ask vulnerable residents to contact PS&B if they feel they need rehousing during this time. For any residents who feel unwell, do speak to the caretaking team who I know have been going to the nearby newsagent for the basics if the residents are not able to.
“I’m hopeful that where residents have requested rehousing these requests will be accepted. If not, please do get in touch. [email protected]”
‘Investigating the cause’
PS&B’s estate management director Michael Barber said: “Representatives from the manufacturers and the installers have been on site investigating the cause of the electrical failure of the equipment on both lifts. UK Power Networks have also been contacted.
“New lift equipment has had to be purchased and is currently being made to order as it is not standard issue. Allowing time for the delivery, installation and testing of the new equipment, the works are estimated to be completed by 5th April.”
A secure information box is available for fire-fighters with a list of vulnerable residents in case of emergencies.