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Hackney Council investigates stairwell death at 19-storey tower block on the day both lifts were out of order

PUBLISHED: 17:12 21 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:12 21 October 2020

355 Queensbridge Road will be getting sprinkler systems. Picture: Google Maps

355 Queensbridge Road will be getting sprinkler systems. Picture: Google Maps

Archant

Hackney Council is investigating how an elderly man came to die in the communal stairwell of a 19-storey tower block it manages, on the day that both lifts had been out of action.

The man, who has not been named, is thought to have lived on the 11th floor at the accomodation for over 55s in Queensbridge Road, Haggerston.

The block is serviced by just two lifts, one of which is still not working after breaking down on October 8.

The council said the other was also “briefly out of service” on October 15 on the day the man died, although they cannot yet say whether this had any bearing on his death.

Sonia Starkey is now worried about her own parents who live on the 13th floor, and told the Gazette the lifts have been a problem for years, which has “forced many of the elderly residents to walk up and down the steps”.

She said: “The residents’ association has reported the never ending issues and worries with the continuous break down of the lifts to the council, and for many years have asked for the lifts to be replaced or upgraded, but their requests have not been taken seriously and have been denied.

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“Every other week, one or the other lift breaks down which is reported to the council and the residents of the 114 flats, for most of the year are reliant solely on one lift.”

She believes the unreliability of the lifts has a “serious effect” on the residents’ mental health and wellbeing.

“Many elderly residents are frightened that they will be trapped in the lift, and over the years for many of the residents, this has been the case,” she said.
The council is now trying to establish the full facts of the incident to understand how it happened.

The council’s housing chief, Cllr Clayeon McKenzie, said: “This is a truly tragic incident, and my thoughts are with the family, friends and neighbours of the resident who has sadly passed away.

“While both lifts in this building were briefly out of service on the day of the incident, we brought one of these back into use shortly after the fault was identified, and the second is now being repaired as a priority.

“We cannot yet say whether this has any relation to this incident.

“Regardless of the outcome of our investigations, we understand the concerns around the reliability of the lifts in this building and have already been working to address this. We fully refurbished one of the two lifts in 2017, have swiftly responded to all recent faults, and are now looking at how we can improve reliability – such as more regular servicing and more extensive renewal of the lift systems.”


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