AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after a couple aged 92 and 93 were left with no central heating and no hot water for a whole weekend.
“It’s a miracle they didn’t die of hypothermia”, said their furious daughter.
She does not want her parents to be named, believing it would add to their distress, but they live in a Hyndburn Homes sheltered accommodation scheme in Oswaldtwistle.
Their nightmare began on Saturday when they woke to find they had no central heating or hot water and were forced to contact their warden.
They were warned there had been a lot of calls about the problem and advised they would have to be patient while it was sorted out – but by late afternoon the heating was still off.
In the evening their daughter made a number of calls to the warden, to Hyndburn Homes’ out-of-hours service and eventually to councillors, which finally resulted in a plumber being sent out with an electric heater.
It was discovered that the fan on their central heating boiler was not working properly, despite the fact that it had only been fitted in March, but as the boiler was under warranty Hyndburn Homes was not allowed to touch it.
It was not until Monday that the problem was finally solved.
The daughter, who also does not wish to be named, said: “My dad has kidney problems and has to go to Accrington Victoria Hospital for dialysis three times a week.
“I always go round on Saturday evenings to make sure they are okay. When I got there my mum was physically shaking because she was so cold. I had to wrap her in extra clothing. It was just freezing in the house, bitterly cold. I then contacted my brother-in-law to ask him to bring an electric heater to try and warm them up.
“I think it is just diabolical that they were left like this, especially when it is supposed to be sheltered accommodation. Clearly it is not sheltered if no-one is prepared to do anything.
“We didn’t get any sensible answers. We were just told to put the electric fires on. We are not stupid and of course we wanted to keep them warm, but we really needed something doing. My parents were just speechless because they were so cold.”
The couple, who are great-grandparents and have been married for 66 years, have lived in Hyndburn since the 1960s. Both have difficulties walking.
On their behalf, their daughter contacted council leader Peter Britcliffe, Oswaldtwistle councillor Marlene Haworth and the Mayor of Hyndburn, Councillor Tony Dobson.
Councillor Haworth said: “They rang me in desperation on Saturday night and asked for my help. I just feel sure someone could devise a better system for helping old people when something like this happens.
“It is just not right. I felt so bad that I had to do something even though they do not live in my ward.
“When you reach a ripe old age like these people have it is not acceptable to be left without heating and water all weekend.”
Councillor Britcliffe said: “I intend to raise this issue at the next Hyndburn Homes board meeting as this is certainly an unacceptable thing to happen. The important thing is that we work together to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Councillor Dobson, who is also chairman of Hyndburn Homes said: “We are very disappointed that we could not work more efficiently for the couple and help them with their problems.
“Hyndburn Homes is producing a report which I have asked to come to me.
“We will look into what went on so we can learn lessons and make sure it never happens again.”
Nigel Fenton at Hyndburn Homes said: “The boiler in this property is a combi-boiler which had recently been installed.
“Our out-of-hours repairs service received a report that the boiler was not working and an engineer was sent to the property to attend to the problem.
“Unfortunately, the boiler needed a new part. We did not stock the necessary part and since this happened over the weekend, we were unable to contact the supplier and were forced to wait until Monday when it was repaired.
“In the meantime, we did provide temporary heating for these residents.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to improving our services, we are now talking to the supplier of these boilers with a view to becoming agents for them. This means that should this problem recur in the future, we will be able to replace all parts very quickly.
“We have apologised to these residents for the problems they have experienced.”