A broken lift in a block of council flats left elderly and disabled residents virtual prisoners in their own homes for three weeks.

The defective lift, in Berry House, Anerley Street, Battersea, meant some its 40 residents had to climb up and down the stairs of the eight storey building.

It was finally fixed last Thursday, only to be break again over the weekend. Engineers got it working again on Monday.

Tenants were notified by letter on September 8 saying it would be out of order due to major repairs to the gear system.

They were offered temporary accommodation by the council, although none took up the offer, whilst those with disabilities were offered assistance with the stairs.

Jean Laffey, 73, said she struggled up five flights of stairs to carry shopping to her flat on the third floor.

She said: "I'm 73, I shouldn't be heaving stuff about. I have had to put up with all these problems.

"It is the worst lift we have ever had. I don't like walking up the stairs at night."

Victor Cumberbach, who suffers from chronic diabetes, struggled with the 88 step descent from his flat.

He said: "I have hospital appointments, going down the stairs was the problem.

"I thought if anything happens to me they will find it hard putting me on a stretcher and carrying me down the stairs."

A spokesperson for the council said the delay was caused by waiting for replacement parts and apologised for the breakdown at the weekend.

The flat is part managed by the Battersea Fields Residents Organisation.