A DAUGHTER feared for her elderly mum’s life during the recent extreme heatwave after discovering the heating had been left on in her South Warwickshire retirement flat.
Gill Hurst said her 93-year-old mum Betty Dainty was left sweltering in her flat at Chandos Court in Leamington during the blazing 38 degree plus heat on Tuesday July 19 because the ‘antiquated heating system’ could not be turned off in the building.
Gill said Betty, who has lost 80 per cent of her vision, was eventually forced to go out and appeal to a shopkeeper to help her purchase a fan.
Chandos Court is a block of retirement apartments owned and run by Warwick District Council (WDC).
Gill told the Observer that in past summers when the temperature was around 20ºC the heating had been left on in the public areas of the building, such as the corridors and the lounge, and in the flats the occupants had not been able to turn the heating up or down as it was centrally controlled.
But she could not believe it when she visited her mum on Tuesday – when the UK recorded a new record temperature – to find the heating on.
She explained: “During the crisis of the heatwave when numerous pieces of advice were handed out and we were warned the heat could kill people, I could not believe the heating was on.
“I visited early to escape the hottest part of the day and as I came up out of the lift onto my mum’s corridor I was hit by a wall of heat. It was unbearable. I thought, how is mum going to cope in this? This could be the death of her.
“All the windows in the building were wide open, which is against government advice, as it was letting the outside heat in and adding to the heat from the radiators.”
Gill called the council who said the heating had to be left on so there was hot water for the building.
“They said they would get back to me by email. I admit I just lost it then and said I couldn’t wait for an email as this was an emergency.
“I was watching the news about the dangers of buildings catching fire due to the extreme heat and I was terrified that could happen to mum’s building.”
“I don’t understand why the council is happy paying these extortionate bills for electricity and gas when they could be investing that money into upgrading their antiquated heating system.
“The heating wasn’t switched off in the end and it is still on now”.
A spokesperson for Warwick District Council apologised to Betty and Gill for the “discomfort encountered” during the unprecedented heatwave.
They said: “Since this incident we have been investigating how the fault to the heating and hot water system occurred to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. We are optimistic that the problem has now been resolved, but would advise any of our tenants to contact the council’s Lifeline Service who are available 24 hours a day if they are having difficulties.
“Council tenants living in Chandos Court should be able to turn off their heating using their thermostat or individual radiators whilst maintaining their hot water supply.”