This week Homes in Sedgemoor are interviewing for a new Chief Executive. One of the first questions any interview panel should ask is “How long is ‘too long’ to leave vulnerable people stranded in the upper floors of hi-rise buidings without a working lift??”. In the case of West street’s West Bow House this has been since July 20th and the repairs are still not likely for another 3 weeks. Cllr Brian Smedley and Cllr Kathy Pearce, Westover ward councillors, attend regular walkabouts amongst the Homes in Sedgemoor properties along Bridgwater’s West Street alongside Housing Officers and residents and this was one of the main issues raised this month. But not the only one….
Cllr Smedley said “Residents have been frustrated over the years at what appears to be just lip service from HiS. They jot down notes and they say they’ll get things dealt with. But residents seem to raise the same issues month in month out. When we raised the lift issue they said it would be dealt with next day, but instead its another 3 week wait, and this is for people who can’t get about easily, need medication delivered and rightly feel ignored.”
Cllr Pearce, who recently argued the case at Council for bringing the Housing management service back ‘in house’ was also angry saying “This is very unsatisfactory isn’t it. I wonder what servicing contract they have to identify problems areas and hopefully avoid such a situation? I note there hasn’t been any mention of a rent refund for affected residents……”
HiS customer access spokesperson Rachel Palmer said “We have now been advised that the lift is going to be out of action for another 2-3 weeks. Our contractor have now confirmed there has been a major component failure linked to the control panel and processor and due to the age of the parts required for these components, they have been unable to source replacements. Following discussion around various options, it has been decided the components in question will need to be completely replaced, and the lead time for this has been quoted at 2-3 weeks. Obviously we are all very well aware of the implications of the lift being out of action, and the inconvenience this is causing to our residents at West Bow House. Letters have been hand-delivered to all flats this afternoon, and we will obviously continue to keep our customers updated on this situation. From previous conversations, we understand there are two residents who are unable to get out with the lift out of action, and we are supporting them, and potentially assisting them with a move to more suitable accommodation, as in the event of an emergency or fire, the lift would not be operational anyway, so everyone should be able to self-evacuate.Please be assured that everyone is fully aware of the seriousness of this situation and we are all working to resolve this matter as soon as possible.”
The West street walkabouts are open to all residents. This month the group started, as always, at West Street flats and walked along Westfield Close, where long term unrepaired damage to railings was pointed out, where litter and debris was in great evidence around the estate and where drains were almost 100% covered with an overgrowth creating obvious flood points. Continuing into Halswell close damaged and unrepaired walls were a feature and then across the road a major incident of overspilling and uncollected garbage.
Cllr Smedley added “Probably, now is the right time for Homes in Sedgemoor to get its act together. Any incoming Chief Exec would be shocked at the state of affairs here.”