Great-grandmother left trapped in 15th floor flat when lifts broke down at Sunderland tower block

Altrincham Tower, Lakeside Village
Altrincham Tower, Lakeside Village
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A great-grandmother was left trapped in her 15th floor tower block flat when both lifts broke down.

Audrey Chisholm lives in Altrincham Tower, in Lakeside Village, which caters for the over-55s.

Altrincham Tower, Lakeside Village

Altrincham Tower, Lakeside Village

Daughter Julie says it is extremely rare for both of the lifts in the high-rise block to work at the same time.

While the residents can manage with one lift, the situation has become serious over the last two weeks, when both lifts have often been out of order at the same time.

This has left Audrey, 72, who is in poor health, unable to leave her home.

Julie, 49, from Ryhope Village, said: “The situation with the lifts over the last two weeks has been that they have hardly worked at all.

What if there was to be a fire or another emergency? How would they get everybody out of the flats?

Julie Chisholm

“My mother lives 15 storeys up and for the last two weeks both have been broken most of the time.

“Those who live there are predominantly elderly as the accommodation is for the over-55s. It really isn’t good enough.”

Julie said things came to a head on Tuesday, when residents gathered on the ground floor, waiting for at least one of the lifts to be fixed so they could get to their flats.

“It was like a wartime atmosphere in the downstairs foyer, everyone was sitting waiting for news,” Julie said.

“More and more people gathered in the foyer, they were there for at least two hours and I couldn’t get to my mother to check on her.

“My mother suffers from ill health. What do you do – do you ring the fire brigade to get her out? I don’t know what the answer is.

“What if there was to be a fire or another emergency? How would they get everybody out.”

Graham Gowland, executive director of property at Gentoo, said: “At Gentoo, the safety and wellbeing of our customers is paramount.

“We have been made aware of an isolated incident at one our tower blocks in which both elevators were out of service for a short period of time.

“Both elevators are now in full working order and we have instructed our contractors to carry out essential remedial work to improve the efficiency of the lifts in the coming weeks.

“In the unfortunate event that an emergency evacuation is required due to a fire, all customers are made aware that elevators should not be used.

“Personal evacuation plans are in place for every customer that has mobility issues to ensure they can be identified and removed from the building by the emergency services.”