AGING lifts in sheltered housing schemes in the borough are being replacement as part of a new programme.
The first set of new lifts have been installed withing six sheltered schemes, including Preston Court in North Shields, and are now being used by tenants.
The £1.1m programme to replace all 15 lifts in 14 sheltered housing schemes in a phased approach is expected to be completed by the end of October.
Preston Court resident Ian Wilson said: “We are all so pleased with the new lift, it is amazing and as fast as a racehorse.
“It is much better and much easier to use.”
Mayor Linda Arkley, who visited Preston Court to see the new lift go into use, said: “I understand that the aging lifts and the regular failures have caused difficulties and great frustration for tenants, so I’m delighted that we now have new lifts going into our sheltered housing schemes.
“We aimed to do the repairs when faults happened, but unfortunately had difficulties in getting the spare parts for the out-dated equipment and usually these ended up having to be manufactured, resulting in delays.”
All the lifts have exceeded their life expectancy, dating from as early as 1974, which meant that last year there were several breakdowns within the 23 schemes that have them.
As a longer-term solution, the lifts were due to be replaced as part of the Quality Homes for Older People PFI initiative.
However, to reduce the risk of further lift failures, Mrs Arkley revealed in March that lift replacements will begin earlier by removing this work from the PFI initiative.
Each of the new lifts is being individually manufactured to fit the scheme, taking seven weeks to carry out the works to remove the old lift and install the new one.
Whilst this work is being undertaken the council have arranged for temporary platform lifts to be fitted to ensure that tenants still have a lift service until their new permanent lift is ready for use.