No immediate risk: the 19-storey Queensbridge Road block. Photograph: Google Streetview

Residents of 19-storey tower block 355 Queensbridge Road have spoken out once again expressing “deep concerns” over continuing problems with their lifts.

The Town Hall launched an investigation in October of last year into the death of one resident at Queensbridge that left the community shaken, after neighbours put out a challenge at the time over the unreliability of the lifts that residents said left elderly people having to take the stairs.

While the council has agreed that it is “unacceptable” for both of the two lifts to be out of service at the same time, resident Patrick Ryan, who sits on the block’s tenant management organisation (TMO), has now spoken out over continuing issues with access, with one lift left out of action for weeks still not functioning today.

Ryan said: “They need to let us know what would happen if the other lift now breaks down as it is not that reliable. We’ll have more residents trying to climb up the stairs to their flats and maybe another pensioner suffering some sort of accident or worse.

“It’s just sickening the way the council have ignored the length of times these lifts have been out of service. We still await the history records that we’ve requested many years ago. It’s shameful that the residents are having to put up with this dreadful service in view of the current pandemic.

“It’s amazing that no one’s got back to me regarding our justified complaints about the dreadful standards of lifts repair service issues in spite of what has happened here with the death of a resident.

“I’ve made it quite clear about our concerns regarding Covid and the close proximity of people using the one lift and the many people waiting to use only the one lift and the arguments that go on because of the policy of only one person using the lift.”

Neighbours called for a “plan of action” to address the lift issues at the block back in October, which was singled out for its own sprinkler system back in 2018 due to the high number of elderly residents who live there. 

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) reported at the time a litany of lift problems having a “serious effect on the mental health and wellbeing” of the residents, including lifts trapping residents inside them, workmen congregating near the system, elevating the risk of Covid-19 and making it more difficult for healthcare professionals to access the block. 

The TMO has reported “continuous” problems with the lift system in the past, but has spoken out about feeling powerless to persuade the council to address the issues, with Ryan claiming he is still waiting four years after requesting a history log of the breakdowns to help advance his case.

 A letter sent today to residents by the council said that repairs to the lift by the council is subject to further delay, with Town Hall contractors finding that the main lift motor was faulty, after which it was found that due to an instrument which measures the lift motor’s speed being now obsolete, with contractors forced to source replacements. 

However, hitting out at the council in a complaint letter seen by the LDRS, Ryan pointed to a “pattern” whereby dates are given for repairs to be done following which other issues are found, with contractors failing to explain explain to residents the work being undertaken on the spot. 

He added: “We were promised so much would be done and you all jumped to attention when things were going to be made public with feeble excuses and not accepting any blame for the appalling performance of the lift contractors to remedy the notorious frequent breakdowns.

 “The bottom line is that the obsolete parts should have been replaced well before now and in line as potential breakdowns as part of the contractor’s program when servicing the lifts. 

“I can’t believe a word the council say anymore because nothing has still been done to show any sign that any of you care. 

“We have been waiting again for nearly three weeks and a part was to be fitted on 22 January, which was the date on the door of the lift letting residents believe it should be completed by but again engineers came and went and no explanation was expressed to us as to why the part didn’t resolve the issue again. 

“I don’t know whether anyone is listening or just can’t be bothered responding but I hadn’t had a single reply to let us know what exactly is going on about a date for service except from Hackney complaints which they say they will respond to my complaint within 15 working days.”

A Hackney Council spokesperson said:  “Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the resident of 355 Queensbridge Road, who sadly passed away last year. 

“Hackney Council carried out a full investigation into our lift maintenance procedures. This found that legal requirements relating to lift management and disrepair reporting were followed. The Health and Safety Regulator and the Social Housing Regulator found no further action was required. 

“However, we accept it was unacceptable for both lifts to be out of service at the same time and have since tightened procedures to include daily checks and an automated reporting system, which helps us ensure faults are fixed as soon as possible.”

Support us

The coronavirus outbreak meant that the Hackney Citizen was unable to print a monthly newspaper for three months.

We're grateful that we have since been able to resume printing. This would not have been possible without the generosity of our readers, whose donations kept the paper from disappearing completely at a distressing time for residents.

A huge thank you to everyone who gave their time and money to support us through the lockdown, and to those who continue to do so as we slowly recover from the dramatic fall in advertising revenues, on top of the existing challenges threatening the future of local journalism.

A one-off donation or a regular contribution from anyone who can afford it will help our small team keep the newspaper in print and the website running in the coming months and years.

Find out how you can donate.

Thank you for your support, and stay safe.

The Hackney Citizen team