OFFICIALS from a housing development where elderly people have been forced to manage without hot water for two months last night insisted they were doing all they could to resolve the problem.

Several houses on the Sir ED Walker Homes development, in Darlington, have had problems since a fault developed in the water main - installed in 1928 - causing disruption to the hot water supply.

Engineers have since established that work will have to be carried out to replace 600 metres of underground pipes because of a leak.

Pensioners - including some who suffer from ill health - and their concerned relatives told The Northern Echo of their distress at the situation, and said they feared their wait for hot water may go on for several more weeks.

But, last night, trustees at the development, in Coniscliffe Road, insisted they had done everything possible to limit adverse effects, and had kept residents fully informed of developments.

Peter Willson, chairman of trustees, said a substantial amount of money would be needed for repair work.

He said: "We are taking out loans, applying for grants, doing everything we can to raise the money for the repairs.

"Irrespective of whether we have money or not, we know the pipe needs to be replaced. But these things take time.

"We have always made alternative facilities available to residents. If at any time the place had been dangerous to live, like if there was no heating, we would have shut those areas as a last resort.

"It took time to find out exactly what was wrong.

"We found a leak quickly but that didn't cure the problem - a lot of digging and technical work has had to be done.

People have worked all hours, through weekends, to sort it out."

Trustee James Gordon said the help of Northumbrian Water - which gave advice and helped with digging work at the development, despite it being outside its control - had been invaluable.

"This is major repair work that needs to be carried out, and we are doing everything we possibly can to ensure that happens as soon as possible," he said.

Councillor Heather Scott, who represents the Park West ward which covers the Sir ED Walker Homes development, said: "This is massive work that needs doing, and involves a terrific amount of money."