Elderly residents living in a “freezing cold” tower block have endured a miserable six weeks waiting for the heating to be fixed.
Some at the St Anne’s Court retirement complex in Herne Bay have resorted to wearing four layers, while others have stayed in bed during the day to combat the plummeting temperatures.
Many of those living in the flats have health conditions which can be exacerbated by the chilly weather.
Places for People, which runs the seafront complex, has apologised for the disruption caused. The firm says engineers have been “working hard on-site” to fix the issue since it was first reported in October, with staff attending the block 13 times in total.
Elaine Grant, a resident of St Anne’s Court for nine years, told KentOnline it has been “miserable and cold” at the block of flats.
“I have heart failure, one of our ladies has gone into a care home because it is warm and there is a problem with one of her lungs, and there is a 90-year-old,” she added.
“It has been going on for weeks and it is not good enough. They are supposed to be caring for the residents and giving us support but they are not.”
Mrs Grant says she was originally told by Places for People the boiler needed new parts and workers would be on-site the following week.
But then she was told one of the boilers had gone down and plumbers could not get it started again.
“I have been going to bed in the afternoon to get in my quilt so I can get warm as sometimes the heating is completely off and you have nothing,” the 69-year-old said.
“With the cold weather coming in it has been really bad.
“I have been going to my daughter’s to keep warm but you still have to come back to the cold flat.”
Margaret Tomkins, who has lived there for five years, told KentOnline a customer service worker suggested buying an electric blanket after she complained about the cold.
But she says some residents have to “wear four layers” as they cannot afford to run a fan heater.
“It has been sad and you want to cry for some of the residents,” the 76-year-old said.
“The lounge runs off a different heating system so we have been gathering down here in the afternoons with coffee as it is warmer but then you have to go back into the freezing cold.
“Places for People have done what they can do - but they have not communicated with us and they have only responded to individuals who have complained.
“They have not gone around the block or called a meeting. We pay for our heating with our rent so we are entitled to it.”
She says some residents have stayed in bed until 11am as they are so chilly.
“It is ridiculous that in this day people of a certain age who feel the cold more - and the weather forecast is not good - have to sit with an electric fan heater,” she added.
David White, who has lived in the block for four years, says the past six weeks have been “horrible”.
“The only thing you can do is sit with a blanket over you in the evening and put a dressing gown on,” the 73-year-old said.
“It is not too bad in the day but in early afternoon when the temperature goes down and in the early evening when it can drop to -2C as we are on the coast, it can be horrendous.
“My wife has chronic lung disease and does not cope well at all with cold weather.”
KentOnline spoke to residents at St Anne’s Court on Tuesday afternoon.
After we contacted Places for People, a spokesperson for the company said yesterday it had now found a “solution” to the issue.
“We’re really sorry to our customers at St Anne’s Court for the disruption they have experienced,” they said.
“There have been a number of challenges with the heating system which have resulted in short periods of loss of heating and it not reaching the right temperature.
“Our engineers have been working hard on-site since the problems were first reported in October.
“We have attended 13 times in total and have been giving ongoing support to our customers, such as providing temporary heaters.
“Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the issues and the availability of the specialist parts, it has taken longer than we’d like to fix, and we’re very sorry about that.
“On Tuesday, we were able to find a solution to the problems with the heating so all customers’ homes will now be at the expected temperature and we are putting extra measures in place so this cannot happen again.
“We will of course be reimbursing customers for any additional energy costs that temporary heaters have created.”