Lowestoft residents upset over bin room charging point
PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 July 2011
Archant © 2011
PEOPLE living in a Lowestoft housing complex hit out this week after being told by their landlord to recharge their mobility scooters in a "smelly", "dirty" room next to rubbish bins.
Elderly residents at Glenwood Court, off Kirkley Cliff Road, say they are furious after being told by the Cotman Housing Association that they can no longer recharge their scooters using plugs outside their flats.
One disgruntled tenant – 65-year-old Bill Rookes – says the room that he and his neighbours are now forced to use is so dirty and unhygienic that he disinfects his scooter after he has re-charged.
But the housing association insists it consulted residents about the change, which is for “health and safety” reasons.
Before the new rule came into force, people living at the block were able to plug their mobility scooters into sockets on landings outside their flats. But under the new system, nine residents have take their scooters downstairs in a lift and recharge them in the bin room, which can only be accessed from the outside.
As only three scooters can be charged at a time, some residents say they sometimes now often have to wait for several hours before they can use the charging points which are next to a rubbish shute above the bins.
Mr Rookes, a former milkman who has a major spine problems, said: “It is ridiculous. In fact it is a real pain. We now have get in the lift with the scooter, leave the entrance and then open the door to the bin room.
Mr Rookes, who has been living in his flat for 18 months, added: “It smells in there... I wash my scooter with disinfectant after I have been in there because of the germs. I have to wipe all the scooter down
“You also have to take your scooter out when it could be raining or cold. I have just had enough. I think we are all entitled to live in peace and dignity - and we don’t have that at the moment.”
As the Journal was being shown the bin room, another resident, who did not wish to be named, said he also opposed the new arrangements. Mr Rookes said his fellow tenants shared his view.
Kirsty Doig, whose grandparents live at Glenwood Court, said she was concerned that her grandfather, who is now in his 80s, had to visit the bin rooms to re-charge his scooter battery.
Ms Doig, 34, who works as PA in London, said: “I have been in the bin room when disposing of my grandparents’ rubbish and it is not a nice place. It is dark, dingy, smelly, very dirty and most certainly a place I am not happy for my grandparents to spend regular time there as they both are very susceptible to infections.”
Glenwood Court is described as “a general need rented development for people aged 60 and ove”r.
Cotman Housing Association, which is based in Norwich, said it brought in the new charging rules for health and safety reasons. But after being contacted by the Journal, it promised to inspect the bin room to address the residents’ concerns.
A Cotman spokesman said: “The safety of our residents is of paramount importance. A fire safety inspection found that some residents were using the electrical sockets in the communal corridors and landings to charge their scooters.
“This practice is considered unsafe due to the risk of battery overheating and causing a fire in the escape route for the building.
“The inspector also noted that some scooters were obstructing the corridor and landing areas and could impede residents’ escape in the event of fire.
“ A consultation meeting was then held with Glenwood residents, who were asked to comment on alternative proposals for the creation of a scooter store.
“Residents agreed that this should be positioned within the large bin storage area.
“The area has subsequently been inspected by the fire officer with no safety issues raised. “Concerns regarding the hygiene of the storage area have not been raised with us previously by residents and we will now inspect and make arrangements to address any issues.”