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Disabled woman stuck in flat with broken door

Carol Aldridge
Carol Aldridge Image credit:

A woman who needs an electric wheelchair is concerned about a broken door in her apartment which doesn’t open or close.

Carol Aldridge has been stuck in her Chelmsford home since July when she first reported the problem to Chelmer Housing Partnership (CHP) who own the property.

At least nine contractors have been sent to resolve the issue, but to date the door remains broken.

The 61-year-old has taken extra precaution when she needs to leave the flat for vital errands by taking a torch, phone and a blanket just in case she is locked out.

She told EssexLive: "I’m constantly on a rollercoaster of is this door going to open so I can get out and, if I managed to get out, am I ever going to be able to get back in.

“If so, when? If so, when will a contractor come out or will he just walk away leaving me in the same situation. I am getting nowhere. Nowhere is where I’m going.

"I am distressed. My emotions are up and down like the weather. I am totally frustrated and angry. The landlord shows no compassion at all. It’s horrendous, appalling, need not happen and all you get is sorry.”

Carol, who has cerebral palsy, has no care or family for support sees herself as very independent.

She receives housing benefits but covers the maintenance service charge for the building.

When she initially reported the problem Carol had to wait four hours until the first contractor admitted they could not fix the door.

On another occasion a contractor was five hours later and did not arrive until 2am, they could not resolve the issue either!

Carol said: "When you’re disabled and you need to get out, you need to get out at that point in time - getting in and out of your flat isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity."

When she raised a complaint she was told the door was going to be fixed internally and had a meeting scheduled with the housing association customer feedback team in October.

Four contractors tried to fix the door in November, none of them succeeded, Carol was told by one of the maintenance men the whole system needed replacing, but she would have to call the housing association herself to “get things moving”.

A CHP spokesperson said: "We know Mrs Aldridge very well and have been in frequent contact with her about the electric door to her home. We are in the process of providing her with a new door to fix the issue and are very sorry that the situation is causing her any distress.

"When Mrs Aldridge first reported the fault to us at the end of July we sent an engineer to her home to explore the issue. They tested the door but could not find anything wrong.

"When Mrs Aldridge continued to raise issues about the door, we organised further visits and inspections. However, on each occasion, the engineers couldn’t find a fault. We reached the conclusion, therefore, that the issue was intermittent and, unhelpfully, not present when we visited.

"This made it difficult for us to work out what might be causing the problem and how to fix it. So, we have told Ms Aldridge that we will replace the electronic door closer with a new one.

"We are able to carry out this work as a priority and we are trying to make contact with Mrs Aldridge to arrange this.

"In the meantime, so that she feels safe and does not have to deal with any issues from the door malfunctioning, we have offered several ways we can help Mrs Aldridge.

"We have told her we’ll be pleased to move her temporarily into another room at her sheltered scheme or, if she prefers, a nearby hotel. We have also offered to provide somewhere Mrs Aldridge can store her wheelchair so that she can use a different door to enter and exit the building and completely avoid using the one we’re fixing. So far, she has declined these offers.

"With regards to Mrs Aldridge’s claims that we did not send her the outcome of her complaint, this is not the case. We wrote to her in September with the outcome of our investigations into her initial complaint.

"She was unhappy with the decision we took at that time and, as is an option for anyone who raises a complaint with us, she let us know she wanted to appeal. The appeal panel met in October, with Mrs Aldridge at the meeting.

"We then sent Mrs Aldridge another letter confirming the panel’s decision and setting out the action we would be taking to resolve the issue with the door.

"We will continue to help Mrs Aldridge in any way we can. Everyone at CHP takes pride in caring for our customers, and we will always act quickly to deal with any complaints.”

One contractor who arrived allegedly told Carol they were only there to let her out and not to fix the broken door.