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Residents fear Christmas trapped in tower block by metal thieves

PUBLISHED: 12:53 24 December 2012 | UPDATED: 13:13 24 December 2012

Residents Terrence Austin, left, Donald Loades,  Aneta Sebik and Nesredin Kelifa, from Kelson House, in Cubitt Town, are angry as the two lifts in the block have recently broken down several times.

Residents Terrence Austin, left, Donald Loades, Aneta Sebik and Nesredin Kelifa, from Kelson House, in Cubitt Town, are angry as the two lifts in the block have recently broken down several times.

Archant

Frail pensioners are among the dozens of residents fearing they could be trapped in their homes over Christmas because cruel metal thieves broke the lifts in their tower block.

Heartless robbers stole copper water pipes from Kelson House in cubitt Town earlier this month and flooded 48 flats and the lift shafts.

Both lifts in the 23-storey building were so badly damaged they were not operational, and elderly residents and young families who were unable to manage the stairs were left stranded on the upper floors for several days.

One elderly resident, who has a heart condition, told the Advertiser he was forced to miss a hospital appointment because he couldn’t leave his flat.

And Terrence Austin, 57, who lives on the top floor of the block just off Stewart Street, said: “I’m worried about Christmas. Lots of people will be visiting and using the lift, but I’m worried it might break again, and then people won’t be able to come.

“It’s a pain in the neck for me to walk up and down, but at least I can do it. But for some people they are completely trapped.”

One of the lifts has been decommissioned while the housing association, One Housing Group, sources bespoke mechanical equipment to repair it. Although the other lift was fixed, it has broken down repeatedly over the past few weeks.

Suzanne Horsley, head of regional housing operations, blamed “criminal activity” for the disruption and said repair teams were onsite as soon as the incident was reported on December 6.

She added: “The safety and wellbeing of our residents is our number one priority. We are very aware of the disruption this is causing our residents, especially so close to the Christmas holiday period. We wish to commend affected residents for their patience.

“We will press for the toughest penalties for the perpetrators if the police are successful in apprehending the culprits. We are assisting the police with their investigation and are providing on-going support to affected residents.”

A Tower Hamlets Police spokesman said officers are trawling through CCTV footage in at attempt to catch those responsible. Witnesses, or anyone with information, should call police on 101.

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