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Vulnerable and elderly Grantham residents left without heating or hot water since Christmas

Residents at a housing complex are facing another night of freezing temperatures after being left without hot water or heating since before Christmas.

With temperatures expected to drop to just above freezing tonight (Friday), tenants at Riverside flats, on Welham Street, have spoken of their “nightmare” since a new heating system was installed nearly three years ago.

Residents, many of them elderly, say they have faced nothing but problems with their water and heating since Liberty Gas took over in 2016 as part of an ‘improvement plan’ by South Kesteven District Council.

David and Kathleen Gadd have lived in the council-owned complex for 30 years.

They have been forced to travel to family in Melton for hot baths after being left without heating and hot water since before Christmas.

David, 68, said: “When the new system was first installed in our flat in 2016, I rang the council about five times to complain that the heating was lukewarm and it took over 30 minutes to run approximately 150mm of water in the bath.

“This was back in 2016 and we are now in a worse position.

“We have to boil the kettle just to have a wash and we also rely on a small electric heater.”

Many residents at Riverside Flats have been without hot water and heating since before Christmas. (6566847)
Many residents at Riverside Flats have been without hot water and heating since before Christmas. (6566847)

Kathleen, also 68, used to be a warden at the complex.

She added: “It impacts everyone.

“Our 90-year-oldneighbour is housebound and is forced to spend most of her days wrapped in a duvet with lots of blankets and I always make sure she’s got a hot drink.”

David is also concerned about the safety risks.

He added: “One of the elderly gents lives on the top floor. He has to take the lift to the wash room on the ground floor to fill a bucket with hot water to carry back up to his flat just so he can wash up.”

Their neighbour Andrew Robertson, 51, said: “In September 2016 SKDC removed my hot water cylinder and installed a new hot water / central heating system.

“Since then I have had no hot water or central heating or to be more accurate, the hot water will run for a few seconds and will only be lukewarm. The central heating has a mind of its own and can come on at any time and will switch itself off a short time later. It is never on long enough to heat the premises.

“I am asthmatic and have had two chest infections since it was installed. It is terrible in the winter. We shouldn’t have to put up with it especially as included in my rent is a charge for hot water and central heating.”

Peter Clawson has lived in the flats for 19 years.

He said: “The heating went off on one of the coldest nights of the year last year but when I phoned Liberty Gas to inform them, they simply asked what I expected them to do about it at 10.30pm.

“It feels like everyone is washing their hands of us.”

Since having his new system installed in October, Alan Brackenbury, 47, says that he has been plagued with problems ever since.

He said: “I get a bit of hot water when I first turn the tap on but it only lasts for about 30 seconds and then it’s freezing again.”

David Hickling, 72,who has lived at the flats for 11 years, added: “You never know what you’re going to get when you turn the tap on. No one seems interested in helping us.”

They claim that their pleas to the council for help have so far fallen on deaf ears.

David added: “I have been contacting the council non stop since Christmas and have been told that it will be dealt with but here we are more than three weeks after Christmas still without heating or hot water.

“It’s disgusting the way we are being treated.”

When contacted by the Journal this week, Mr Harry Rai, assistant director for housing at South Kesteven District Council, said: “We are aware that some tenants have been experiencing problems with the communal heating system and we are dealing with this as a priority.

“In the short-term we are providing a temporary means of heating and hot water to affected residents at Riverside whilst the existing installation is not functioning to full effect.

“When we have been contacted we have attended in a timely manner, each time ensuring there was heating and the means to obtain hot water before leaving the property.

“SKDC officers visited one of the flats on Friday, along with representatives of the council’s contractors, Liberty Group, who are fitting new replacement and additional filters to the pipework to help alleviate the current problems and keep the system clean to prevent the issue happening again.

“Because of the problems some residents have experienced, and the recurrent repair requirements, the system pipework is scheduled for replacement.

“The plan is to replace the heating pipes as the current ones have been installed since the complex was built and have deteriorated sooner than expected and, over time, become clogged and are in need of replacement.”

Riverside Flats on Welham Street, Grantham. (6599475)
Riverside Flats on Welham Street, Grantham. (6599475)

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