ELDERLY residents in a sheltered housing complex have spoken out after being left without adequate heating for more than five years - having endured one of the coldest winters in recent memory.
Residents at Newsome Vale, a housing complex for over-55s in Wombwell, have put up with regular issues including long stretches without heating or hot water and foul smells filling homes since the site opened in January 2016.
The main problems stem from a boiler that’s reportedly not fit to supply hot water to all 50 properties - which in the most recent example, broke down and left those living at Newsome Vale shivering as temperatures plummeted over the weekend.
Residents were offered electric heaters, but said there weren’t enough to go around.
“You know how cold it’s been in the last week,” said Mary Wilburn, 79.
“Some here are a lot older than me and others are in wheelchairs.
“Everyone has been pulling on the boiler and it can’t cope.
“I’m doing the best I can do - I’ve got my pyjamas, dressing gown, everything on to keep warm.”
Back in 2016, residents complained that the smell of sewage would fill their homes, amid heating and water issues.
Emergency numbers failed to get through to staff, while a broken intercom meant residents had to wait by the entrance to let deliveries and visitors in.
Mary wound up in hospital due to chronic headaches from methane gas which was rising from the drain in her shower room due to a missing seal.
She said problems with pressure meant taps could blast water out, yet it would take up to ten minutes for the water to warm up.
Issues initially came from a dispute between property managers South Yorkshire Housing Association and builders Lovell which residents felt trapped between - but the latter confirmed to the Chronicle it was no longer responsible for the complex.
SYHA has repeatedly attempted to remedy the situation, but this hasn’t fixed the source of residents’ woes, said Mary. “It needs a completely new boiler, it’s never been good enough.
“It’s at one end of the horseshoe of buildings, and I’m on the opposite side, so by the time it gets to me it’s cutting itself off so it won’t overheat or blow up.
“They keep promising and promising, but it’s been like this for five years.
“Everybody here will keep ringing them but we know for a fact until we get a new boiler, it won’t be fixed.”
A relative of a resident, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “My mum is in her 70s, she has COPD and other chronic illnesses and it’s unacceptable that she has been left for so long without a means of warming herself.
“Mum said the residents were offered electric heaters, but the complex only had around ten or so, so most people would miss out on the chance.
“Plus many residents are worried about their electricity bill if they do plug the heater in.
“I find it disgusting that these vulnerable and ill people have been left to freeze over the weekend.”
SYHA said it had brought the boiler back into operation on Monday and would be looking at a more substantial fix next month. Charlotte Murray, co-director of health and wellbeing at South Yorkshire Housing Association, said: “We will be installing a new system as soon as possible in March. Engineers attended Newsome Vale on February 15 and the heating is now working.
“The comfort and safety of our residents is important to us, and we are taking every step to ensure that the heating system is fixed and reliable.”
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