Man, 73, left without heating for five days during big freeze

Mervyn Booth, 73. Picture: Steve Robards
Mervyn Booth, 73. Picture: Steve Robards

An elderly Burgess Hill man who suffers from a lung condition which could ‘kill him if he gets too ill’ said he was left without heating for five days.

Mervyn Booth, 73, who lives in Cherry Tree Court flats, in School Close, Burgess Hill, said he has been forced to go to bed early to ‘stay warm’.

Picture: Steve Robards

Picture: Steve Robards

He said: “We have underfloor heating in the building. The engineers came out on Saturday to fix it as it had broken a couple of days before this, but then it broke again on Saturday night.

“They said it needs new parts. I phoned them Monday morning and someone came out Tuesday but it didn’t get fixed, and then my hot water went.

“They came out again yesterday (March 1), and left saying it was back on.

“It has broken about eight times in the last five years, since I have lived here. I am very angry as there is no other form of heating.

There is not much air in my lungs and if I get too ill it could kill me.

Mervyn Booth

“I suffer from COPD so I have to be really careful. There is not much air in my lungs and if I get too ill it could kill me. I have trouble breathing the most of times and I am vulnerable to chest infections and colds.

“I haven’t been able to go out in this cold weather, as the cold air would hit my lungs. I can’t use a convector heater as it causes me to get a chest infection.

“It is absolutely dreadful, I have had to go to bed early every night in order to stay warm, it has been unbearable.”

Mr Booth lives with his wife Teresa. They have three children and ten grandsons.

The 73-year-old, who is retired, was previously a parking development manager at Mid Sussex District Council.

He said he has contacted his housing association Clarion Housing.

“I phoned telling them I was cold, but they didn’t seem concerned,” he said.

“They said they were going to chase it up but they haven’t got back to me.

“Everyone who lives here are pensioners and a lot of people are fed up. There has been nothing but problems here and they are just not rushing to get it fixed.

“I pay by direct debit and it comes out every month without fail, but they can’t come here on time, it isn’t right. Are they going to pay my funeral bill if anything happens to me?

“We should have some sort of priority and engineers should be here quickly, especially with our ages.”

A spokesman for Clarion Housing said: “We are aware of the ongoing issues here and appreciate the inconvenience this will have caused. Ecolution, our service provider, experienced some internal issues which meant the issue wasn’t resolved as quickly as we would have liked. We will be working with them to ensure this does not happen again.

“We can confirm the heating and hot water at this property is currently working. A part is due to be delivered tomorrow which will provide a final resolution.”

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis.

The disease is characterised by increasing breathlessness.