BY TOBY PORTER
The last two times Cedric Elden managed to get out of his house, he won £100 and £300 at the bookies. Sadly for him, many of the hot tips he’s had for the last month have had to romp home without his backing.
The 80-year-old is not too upset about it – he lives a humble life in a friendly block; and his nags could easily have stumbled home last. But the wheelchair user is now looking forward to regular trips into the sunshine and the local betting shop.
That has been almost impossible for much of the past month because the electric door to his block, Raglan Court, Weigall Road, in Kidbrooke has been broken.
The former road sweeper, who used to clean Trafalgar, Leicester and Parliament squares and Whitehall until he retired 15 years ago, first called the South London Press on May 1.
“The communal front door here has not worked since April 18,” said Cedric, who has lived in the block for 10 years. “It was supposed to be fixed on April 23. I have been trapped in my block all this time. “I don’t have a key for the back door because if I went that way, I might fall over.
“If I want to go out I have to sit on my scooter and wait for someone to come in. If I do get out, I have to leave a screwdriver in the door so I can get back in. “The landlords Optivo keep fobbing me off. “I am getting really upset about it. I’ve had to watch the snooker to keep occupied.”
A spokeswoman for Optivo said: “We’re very sorry for any inconvenience this issue has caused Mr Elden and all the residents at Raglan Court. The problem with the automated door was first reported on April 21 and we sent an engineer immediately.
“The motor had failed. It was too complex to be fixed straight away, but the engineer ensured residents could manually access the building while a specialist investigated the problem. We’re happy to report the issue has now been resolved.
We’ve contacted Mr Elden to let him know and offer our apologies again.”
Cedric called the South London Press again on May 3. “They came and sorted it but by May 2 it was broken again,” he said. “This time the engineer said it needed a replacement part. The last time it went wrong, you could pull it open, but you can’t this time. It is getting unreasonable now.”
The Optivo spokeswoman said on May 9: “We are very sorry for any inconvenience the ongoing issue with the automated door has caused Mr Elden and all the residents at Raglan Court.
“A further investigation has been carried out by our contractor and a new part has been ordered as a priority. “In the meantime, we have contacted Mr Elden to discuss how we can assist him with access to the building.”
Thankfully for Cedric – but not the quaking bookies in the area – the door has now been fixed. So he can get out to the bookies – and he’s a little less worried in case of a fire. He called the South London Press to express his gratitude.
“They came and did it this morning,” he said on Tuesday. “They’ve let me out now. We will see how long it lasts this time – hopefully a few days at least.
“The housing manager rang me last week and said it would be done by Friday. “They even offered to put me up in a hotel in Camberwell until it was fixed. But I like my home. And I don’t know what sort of place it would be or what sort of people I might meet.
I want to thank the South London Press. Your intervention seems to have speeded things up.” The door had just been fixed at the time of going to press.