Fire service helps with elderly woman’s ‘exploding’ light bulbs after housing association refuses emergency call out

Adult social care providers will be paid 10 per cent extra by Cambridgeshire County Council during t

Adult social care providers will be paid 10 per cent extra by Cambridgeshire County Council during the Covid-19 pandemic. Cllr Anna Bailey, chairwoman of the councils adult services committee, announced the decision. Picture: ARCHANT . - Credit: Archant

Council leader Anna Bailey stepped in to help an elderly Ely woman after she called the fire service when her housing association decided exploding light bulbs were not an emergency.

The 74-old-woman lives alone in a Sanctuary Housing bungalow in the city and on Friday morning became alarmed when an overhead light bulb suddenly exploded, shattering glass to the floor.

When a second bulb exploded a short time later, she recognised there was a serious issue with her electrical wiring.

But calls to Sanctuary Housing - when she eventually got through -were rebutted, the woman being told to “go out and buy a table lamp” and workmen would call after the Bank Holiday weekend.

“I had to get the fire service,” she said. “I was terrified.”

She said: “The light bulb in my hall exploded and then the one in the living room exploded.”

The woman, who has medical conditions including leukaemia, knew something was seriously wrong “but Sanctuary told me not to put my overhead lights on. They said I should use table lamps and if I didn’t have any to go out and buy some.”

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She rang the Ely Standard for help and after we contacted Cllr Bailey, the leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, help began to arrive.

She arranged for delivery of a table lamp and the county council community hub team stepped up to the mark.

Cllr Bailey thanked volunteers for their help and later tweeted “more work to do by Sanctuary Housing but resolved for now”.

The woman’s granddaughter, who acts as her carer, also spoke with Sanctuary but to no avail

“I told them she is obviously a vulnerable old lady. I told them it was an emergency and that ‘you have an emergency electrician, how can you tell her not to turn on lights on?’

“And where was she meant to get a table lamp from? “Hardly practical for her to go out and buy one?”

Sanctuary Housing, who took over East Cambs Council’s housing stock in 1993, said: “We are sorry the call from the resident at just after 3pm on Friday April 10 was not immediately identified as an emergency.

“Due to her potential vulnerability this should have been recognised and as soon as it was, an emergency call out was arranged for one of our maintenance operatives to attend the property later that same day to investigate the issue.

“On arriving at the address, our operative found that the light fitting in the living room had caused the bulb to fail and immediately replaced the fitting and the bulb to resolve the issue.

“While he left the address with everything working correctly, because we understand the resident has been worried by this incident, we are arranging for an electrical inspection to be carried out in her home to offer her further reassurance.”