A LARNE pensioner’s hospital operation had to be postponed because of a power cut at the Latharna House tower block last week.
Scheduled work on a transformer meant the lift was not working and paramedics were unable to get 70-year-old Robert Irvine out of the flats. Robert walks with the aid of a stick and cannot use the stairs to and from his flat on the eleventh floor.
The one remaining tower block at Riverdale has been undergoing substantial improvements in recent months and the retired merchant seaman said this week that he felt he had been “living on a building site for over a year”.
“I’ll survive,” said Robert, who was with the Merchant Navy for over 40 years. “But there are more people than me living here who need the lift because they can’t use the stairs either.
“With all the work that has been going on the lift has been out of order a lot and the power has been cut off. It leaves you isolated, without any light, or heating, or any way in or out. It’s a shambles”
Robert was ready to be admitted to hospital for a stomach procedure last Wednesday. Unfortunately, it was the same day that NIE had planned to replace a transformer in the building, which resulted in electricity being cut off for most of the day.
“The ambulance people came and told me they couldn’t take me the hospital because the lift wasn’t working and they couldn’t carry me down the stairs,” he said.
The Housing Executive has apologised for the inconvenience caused to tenants during a health and safety scheme involving the doors, hallways and lifts at Latharna House, adding that it had kept tenants advised of the details.
“On recent occasions, replacement of the lift (cars) has necessitated disruption to power supplies for short periods,” NIHE explained in a statement to the Larne Times.
“During works, NIE identified faults with the existing transformer and advised that it needed to be replaced, necessitating a power shutdown to the building of approximately 12 hours (8am-8pm) on Wednesday, February 22. The Housing Executive and our tenants received written notification of this from NIE on Friday, February 17.
“No queries were received at the District Office in relation to this matter between these dates. We arranged for our caretaker to stay on duty until 11.30pm on the day to liaise with tenants and assist where possible.
“Whilst power was restored at about 8pm, a resulting problem with the lifts meant they remained out of service until engineers rectified this unforeseen issue at 11pm.”
The statement continued: “The Housing Executive, being aware that further short power disruptions are necessary before the planned finish of works, have liaised with the electrical contractor and on Thursday, February 23 advised our tenants accordingly. We have already spoken to tenants who anticipate difficulties and will assist where possible.
“The Housing Executive appreciates the difficulties that the work has caused, however this was essential to ensure the health and safety of tenants. The works on the 22nd were scheduled by NIE and the Housing Executive had limited capability to minimise disruption.”