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Broken lift at Wardona Court in Swanscombe leaves elderly and vulnerable residents stuck inside flats

Elderly and disabled neighbours living in a block of flats say they have been "imprisoned" in their homes for more than two weeks after a lift broke down.

Pensioners have been unable to use the elevator at Wardona Court in Ames Road, Swanscombe, since Boxing Day.

The lifts at Wardona Court have been broken since Boxing Day
The lifts at Wardona Court have been broken since Boxing Day

Shortly after, a sign was placed on the doors which reads: "Nova lifts are trying to get the parts. Sorry for the inconvenience."

But it has now been more than two weeks since the lift broke at the council-run sheltered housing complex and residents, many of whom rely on wheelchairs and zimmer frames, say they are angry over the lack of communication.

Ricky Turrell, who lives in the block and suffers with arthritis which affects his back and joints, says he struggles with the stairs and relies on the lift to access his flat.

The 59-year-old said: "It was scheduled for a new lift three years ago. It is an ongoing problem and several people have also got stuck in the past.

"There is a stair lift but at the time the lift broke down it didn't work as the wardens had taken the keys away and no one knew how to use it."

Wardona Court in Ames Road, Swanscombe
Wardona Court in Ames Road, Swanscombe

Mr Turrell, who weighs more than 20st, has been told he is too heavy to use the stair lift.

On the morning of December 27 he found himself stranded downstairs and put in numerous calls to Dartford council's out-of-hours team but he says no-one got in touch until 10.30pm.

He was later found temporary accommodation in Bean but says it was so uncomfortable he returned to Wardona Court and slept in a communal chair for the next two nights.

"They found me a room in Bean in a cottage, like a little hotel room," he said. "But the bed hurt my back, the heating didn't come on and the shower was too narrow to get into."

He has since been placed at Thatcher Court, another sheltered housing complex in Dartford, while he is unable to access his flat.

Pat Jones, 69, said the lift was a "lifeline for many"
Pat Jones, 69, said the lift was a "lifeline for many"

Meanwhile, neighbours at Wardona Court, which houses around 30 residents over three floors, say they are not being listened to.

Pat Jones, 69, said the lift was a "lifeline for many", adding: "It is just inconvenient all round.

"We had to bring meals upstairs to other residents over Christmas because we didn't have the lift."

Some have been bringing out bins for neighbours or collecting food for those left stranded in the elevator's absence.

A backup stair lift is in operation but many of the residents cannot use it without extra assistance as they require zimmer frames and other forms of walking apparatus to get around which they can't carry down themselves.

Another first floor resident, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed her neighbours had effectively been "imprisoned" and were being treated "like two-year-old kids".

They said: "They are waiting for parts but the trouble is the lift is so old.

"It just makes me so mad. They have already spent the last two years stuck behind closed doors because of Covid.

"Because they are elderly they do what they are told. They are treating them like they are two-year-olds, it is so frustrating."

Dartford council said it was aware of the situation and its contractors were working hard to repair the lift and the backup stair lift was operational.

A spokesman said: "The housing team completely understands how inconvenient this issue is for our residents but our on-site housing scheme staff are in regular, daily contact with those affected and we are offering all the support we can.

"We are working hard to ensure the lift is operational as soon as possible but in the meantime we will continue to ensure that we offer all the support our residents need, and that they are updated as to the progress of the repair works."

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