Published: 13:17, 22 February 2021
| Updated: 14:15, 22 February 2021
Elderly people and others with mobility issues have been 'imprisoned' in their homes for nearly a week, after the lift in an 18-storey Thanet building was left out of action.
Residents of Arlington House, Margate's tallest building, have been forced to use the stairs any time they need to leave the 60s Brutalist tower block.
This has proven particularly difficult for elderly people, those who are disabled and young families who live in flats on the higher floors.
And according to Cllr Rob Yates, himself a tenant of Arlington, some residents have even missed their Covid-19 tests because they have been unable to leave.
Speaking as a fellow resident, the Thanet District councillor described the failure to quickly repair the out-of-use high speed lift as 'despicable.'
He said: "It's like you've been imprisoned in your own building.
"You can't expect a single mum with kids and a pram to be climbing 12 flights of stairs with their shopping.
"Nursing companies are coming in to look after residents and they're having to walk up the stairs just to do their jobs - there are elderly people literally trapped in their flats."
The building has two 56-year-old lifts and one has not worked since October 2019 - the remaining operating lift reportedly breaks down on a semi-regular basis.
The building is let from Thanet District Council to Freshwater Property Management Ltd through its company Metropolitan Property Realizations Limited on a long-term lease.
Freshwater in turn now contracts the management of the building to Parsons, Son & Basley (PS&B).
It is understood PS&B made a decision to move maintenance contracts away from a Ramsgate company United Lift Services which had been maintaining them for eight years, to a new company which is less familiar with the workings of the ageing lift machinery.
Cllr Yates said: "It just shows you the power landlords have - it's quite upsetting when you see landlords who have a duty of care putting up their hands and saying 'bureaucracy is the reason I can't do anything.'
"It's a despicable situation considering there's a lift company that's fixed the lifts for eight years working down the road, but instead they're saying 'we need to wait for wiring diagrams'.
"It just seems like incompetent procurement, where you get a new lift company who don't have experience with these lifts, they don't have the proper documentation and you don't do a proper handover."
But original maintenance company United Lift Services has today confirmed to KentOnline that employees and two company vehicles are now on site at Arlington - though could not confirm whether they were there to repair or just to survey.
A spokesperson from management company PS&B said: "Although it is correct that one lift is inoperative and the other lift sometimes breaks down – and is currently broken down - there is a contract in place to remedy the breakdowns when they occur and we are currently trying to get the other lift working again.
"However, we accept that permanent repairs are needed.An application was made to the Tribunal in 2019 regarding permanent repairs, and Metropolitan Property Realizations Limited was directed to obtain an independent report.
"Accordingly, we obtained a report, which recommended works including installing lifts that conform to the most up-to-date fire safety standards.
"There are ongoing Tribunal proceedings to decide, among other things, whether it is reasonable to go ahead and pay for those recommended works or whether less expensive works should be carried out instead."
The company is in the process of finalising details to fully refurbish the half-century-old lifts, but 75% of the cost - understood to be approximately £900,000 - is to be paid by the leaseholders of Arlington.
This is not the first time the management of the tower block has come under fire.
MPR ended Trinity Estates' management of Arlington House in 2019 after ongoing issues had not been resolved.