Housing firm under fire after broken lift sees disabled Portsmouth man miss relative’s funeral

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‘DREADFUL’ delays in fixing a lift left dozens of disabled and elderly residents ‘prisoners in their own flats’ for days.

Residents living at Caroline Square, in Portsea, have been forced to miss family funerals and crucial hospital appointments because the building’s only lift keeps breaking down.

From left, residents who rely on the lift - Ivy Turnbull, 79, Neil Mundy, 50, John McGowan, 65, Bill Prior, 74, Dave Wade, 55, and Lyn Prior, 62'Picture: Sarah Standing (180769-6286)

From left, residents who rely on the lift - Ivy Turnbull, 79, Neil Mundy, 50, John McGowan, 65, Bill Prior, 74, Dave Wade, 55, and Lyn Prior, 62'Picture: Sarah Standing (180769-6286)

At one point, the situation descended into chaos, with on-duty care staff battling to keep residents fed, using their own cash to buy food from shops for those left stuck on the top two floors.

Now those living in the four-storey building, in King William Street, have said they have had enough after the lift broke down twice in as many weeks.

Disabled John McGowan has lived on the third floor for three years and is unable to walk down the stairs. He said when the lift broke down Friday, September 28, he was left stuck in his home for five days until it was fixed.

The 65-year-old retired nurse said: ‘This lift is my lifeline but it is forever breaking down.

Graeme Mason, 56, who fell down the stairs when the lift was not working.'Picture: Sarah Standing (180769-6292)

Graeme Mason, 56, who fell down the stairs when the lift was not working.'Picture: Sarah Standing (180769-6292)

‘I feel like I’ve been a prisoner in my own flat.

‘I was due to got to my sister-in-law’s funeral but I had to miss that which was heartbreaking.

‘I have missed an important hospital appointment to book surgery. It’s just disgraceful. I feel stressed by the whole situation.’

The lift was repaired by Wednesday, October 3. However, one week later it broke down again, this time for a morning, prompting calls for a second lift to be built in the home,

John’s sister, Caroline, said she was sickened at the situation and has since approached Housing & Care 21, which runs Caroline Square.

The 59-year-old, of Copnor, said: ‘It’s appalling and almost inhumane to have people stranded in flats and unable to have outside contact.

‘Our sister-in-law had her funeral and John couldn’t go because he couldn’t get out of the flat.

‘How distressing must it have been for him knowing his whole family was going to be at the funeral and that he couldn’t attend? It’s absolutely disgraceful.’

Bill Prior, 74, has lived in the flat complex with his wife for several years.

He said had it not have been for the care staff who are on site at the flat that residents would have been unable to buy any food.

‘They have been so many problems with the lifts that if it hadn’t been for the care staff it would have been mayhem here,’ he added.

‘A lot of people are really angry about the whole issue but they’re too scared to speak out.’

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, has been contacted by a ‘number of residents’ from Caroline Square with ‘serious concerns’ which he has since raised with Housing & Care 21.

The Labour MP said: ‘It’s clear that something needs to be done urgently to improve the conditions under which these residents are living. I will continue to put pressure on Housing 21 to resolve these problems.’

Housing & Care 21 said it was ‘aware’ of the issues with the lift and that new measures had been put in place to repair it sooner.

Following discussions with residents, the firm has also introduced more regular calls, shopping assistance and offered free accommodation elsewhere when the lift needed repairs.

A spokeswoman said: ‘We’d like to express our sincerest apologies to the residents at Caroline Square on this matter.

‘During the breakdown, the residents received extra support from both our housing team and care provider.

‘Our chief executive, Bruce Moore also visited Caroline Square during the repair period to reassure everybody involved that a solution to this problem would be identified.’

She added: ‘We absolutely hear the call for an additional lift at the court and we are currently at the stage of investigating whether this would be possible.’

Residents will receive an update this week.