COUNTY NEWS: 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 Sussex 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 a block of flats in Burgess Hill, said he has been forced to go to bed early to ‘stay warm’.

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

Mervyn Booth

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.

“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, 52. 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 and his electricity provider Ecolution.

“I phoned Clarion 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.

“Our provider takes the money off us but they are not willing to get on with the job, there has been nothing but problems here.

“Everyone who lives here are pensioners and a lot of people are fed up. 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.”

Our sister paper Mid Sussex Times has contacted Clarion Housing and Ecolution for a response.

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 characterized by increasing breathlessness.