RESIDENTS in one of Sheffield’s tallest buildings say they are being kept prisoner in their own homes - after the only lift broke down a fortnight ago.
Engineers have discovered a series of faults after the lift in 23-storey Velocity Tower on St Mary’s Gate started to make ‘a funny noise’.
The three-year-old building’s management company have been advised on health and safety grounds the lift must not be used until it is repaired.
Parts have been ordered from abroad and, until they arrive, the only way up and down the 209ft block is via the stairs.
Wheelchair-bound resident Hassan Makhmali has been unable to leave his flat on the 12th floor for two weeks.
“I pay £650 a month to rent this flat and, yes, it has a lovely view over the city,” he told The Star.
“But it is really just a cell with a very good view. This is my prison.”
The building’s website promises ‘immaculate city centre living’ in flats suitable for everyone from ‘young stylish executives to upbeat oldies’.
But 47-year-old Mr Makhmali says he is terrified by his inability to leave his home.
“I am unable to sleep,” he said. “What would happen if there was fire here? How would I get out?”
He is unable to attend hospital appointments or pick up prescriptions for his diabetes, and health visitors who call at his home cannot carry his medical equipment up the 200 steps to his flat.
Mr Makhmali, who has lived in the tower block for two-and-a-half years, said: “When I first took out the lease there was a single lift and a space where we were told another was to be installed.
“But that never happened and now the space is boarded off, so there is just a single lift serving more than 200 flats on 23 floors.
“It keeps breaking down, sometimes for 24 hours, sometimes for 48, and this time for days on end.
“People are having to struggle up the stairs with groceries - and the refuse chute also doesn’t work, so the only way to get rid of rubbish is to carry it to the ground floor.”
Mr Makhmali, who came from Iran to study for a Phd in strategic planning at Sheffield Hallam University, added: “When I ask about repairs the people who manage the building say they are waiting for a rope from Spain.
“I can’t believe that in a city famous for making wire rope they have to go Spain to buy one.”
The tower was completed in 2009 and, the following year, Velocity Estates which built it was put into administration.
Administrators sold it off earlier this year, and the new owners appointed Leeds property company Arim to manage the building.
A spokesman for Arim said the lift situation was ‘regrettable’.
“We called an engineering company when the lift started to make a funny noise,” he said. “We were advised on health and safety grounds the lift should be repaired before it could be used again.
“The engineers told us they would need to go abroad for the parts. Then they discovered a spring had perished and that too need replacing.
“I am in constant touch with them and they are on site today to hopefully resolve the situation.”