Woman broke ankle on stairs in council block where tenants have waited 30 years for lifts to be repaired

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

A woman fell down stairs and broke her ankle weeks after works to reopen a lift shut for 30 years were delayed.

Amino Mahdi slipped on the stairwell in her block on Clapham’s Oaklands estate and broke her ankle, claimed Lambeth Liberal Democrats.

Residents of the four-storey block have been waiting for Lambeth council to replace two elevators in the building since the 1990s, when they were shut down after a major fault occurred in one of them.

In May, the Labour-run council said works to return the lifts to service would eventually begin in October. But last week it was revealed the project had been delayed and now will not begin before January 2024, according to Lambeth Liberal Democrats.

Residents of the block, some who have been waiting for three decades for one of the lifts to reopen, said trekking up the stairs made everyday activities like taking the dog for a walk and receiving deliveries a nightmare.

Janet Phillips, 52, said: “I have been here 32 years. I have now got some mobility issues and these stairs are complicated. I’m relying on other people to take my dog out and getting up and down the stairs is really difficult.

“We were told that we would have lift replacements this year and then we were told it would be November and now I’ve heard it’s sometime in January.”

Ms Phillips added that she had initially led the campaign to get the council to reopen the lifts, but had let her neighbour Sue Woodall take over after becoming fed up with the lack of progress.

Across the block, Susan Butler, 52, said she was tired of having to lug parcels dumped on the ground floor by delivery drivers up multiple flights of stairs to her flat.

She said: “I’ve been here for 20 years and it [the lift] has been broken since then. It would be helpful to have. I go shopping and I have to carry it up all the stairs. I get deliveries and if it’s big boxes they have to leave them downstairs.”

Councillor Ben Curtis, Liberal Democrat member for Clapham Common and Abbeville, called on the council to prioritise the lift replacement to avoid causing residents further problems.

He said: “After 30 years, the council say they’ve taken note of residents’ need for a new lift in Selby House, but the project has seen delay after delay. It is totally inexcusable and residents are losing hope that they will ever see the new lift installed.”

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “The device is a ‘coal bunker lift’ which could only carry two passengers at a time. A proposal to replace it a number of years ago did not go ahead as, partly due to the costs, there was not enough support at the time.

“However, following discussions with residents, the council has reviewed the needs of the block and included the lift on a renewal programme for this financial year. We expect to have the specifications early next month, and we will then prepare to tender the contract.”

Pictured top: From left, councillor Ben Curtis and Selby House residents Amino Mahdi and Sue Woodall on the Oaklands estate, Clapham (Picture: Lambeth Liberal Democrats)

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