Gosport woman left stuck inside her flat for three weeks

Tara Smith from Gosport was trapped for three weeks in her flat. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142205-6)
Tara Smith from Gosport was trapped for three weeks in her flat. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142205-6)
Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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DISABLED Tara Smith was trapped in her flat for three weeks after a lift broke in the block.

The 43-year-old was left unable to leave her fifth-storey flat in Gosport as she cannot walk down stairs. She said: ‘I was trapped in for three weeks. I was totally confined.

‘Being stuck for those weeks I was stuck in my chair, which made my condition worse.

‘I can’t do stairs – there’s another lift on the other side but it means going down steps.

‘I could probably get down them but I wouldn’t get back up them.

‘When I moved in here I was doing 15 hours a day working with autistic adults.’

She suffers from fibromyalgia, which causes pain across her body, and has had to walk with crutches since 2012.

‘My back and legs can just go,’ she added.

Ms Smith, of Leventhorpe Court, Elmhurst Road, Gosport, complained to Penyards Property Management, which manages the flats.

Apart from an initial reply she has not had a full response, she said.

But Alan Davis, managing director of the firm, said lift contractor Otis would charge thousands and the people who own the freehold of the flats said it was too much.

He said: ‘Otis refused to do it without additional payment.’

Another contractor was found who did the work more cheaply, he added.

Ms Smith’s partner Gary Epps, 55, works shifts and was unable to help get her out the flat.

It put extra strain on the couple as he had to do tasks they would share

Jim Morey is chairman of the Gosport Access and Disability Forum.

He said the long delay in fixing the lift was ridiculous and warned such circumstances could lead to social isolation.

He said: ‘It’s beyond comprehension that it would be so long before they could fix it.

‘It’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s a slippery slope if you can’t get out and do stuff. It’s a one-way ticket to loneliness.’

The lift stopped working on June 25 and was fixed on July 16.

Otis said it could not comment on its contract.