Published: 06:00, 19 January 2020
There are calls for a council to take “urgent action” to replace unreliable car park lifts which have broken down more than 50 times in just two years.
Disappointed residents say they are fed-up with being forced to use the stairwell at the Edinburgh Road car park in Ashford.
They are demanding Ashford Borough Council (ABC) improves the lifts, which have failed 53 times in the last 24 months.
Frustrated resident Mick Carr, from Kingsnorth, is calling on the authority to replace the lifts which are said to “bang and creak” and frequently break down.
The 74-year-old uses the Edinburgh Road facility as he suffers from arthritis and it is one of the closest car parks to the town centre.
“I think it is about time the council replaced the lifts in the Edinburgh Road car park,” he said.
“I am told they are over 30 years old and they keep breaking down.
“If you are someone like me who has had to park on the top floor it is no joke.
"ABC must take responsibility for its properties.
“There is always at least one of the three out of action but even when they are, they bang and creak, not giving you much confidence in their safety.
“I have reported it to the council and my local councillor is working hard on the problem, but to no avail at present."
When the lifts are out of action, shoppers are faced climbing the stairwell, which has previously been described as a “drug den”.
Groups of youths are often seen hanging around the stairwell, which bears graffiti on its walls and has recently had a window smashed on one of the higher floors.
One anxious resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said in June: “As a regular user of the council-owned car park, it is more than apparent the stairwells are being used as a ‘drug den’.
“When the lifts are regularly out of service you have no other choice but to use the stairwells, where you are regularly confronted by the thick smog-like smoke of marijuana being used, which in turn you inhale and then drive your car. "
Last year, the council confirmed it would not be installing extra security measures due to the likelihood of CCTV systems being vandalised.
Some disabled visitors may not be able to access their vehicles in the event that all three lifts are out of order.
In a statement sent to the Kentish Express this week, the council said replacing all three lifts would cost about £250,000.
“There are three lifts and in the past two years they have broken down on 53 occasions between them," a spokesman said.
“The majority of these breakdowns have taken less than a day to fix – only 11 have lasted for more than one day.
“There is a programme of planned maintenance in place to ensure the lifts operate with maximum efficiency, safety and reliability.
“Before Christmas each of the three lifts had their cables removed and replaced as part of this maintenance schedule.
“The cost of replacing all three lifts would be in excess of £250,000, which is a considerable expense and any decision to upgrade the lifts will need to be taken as part of any future development of Park Mall.”
More by this authorGeorgia Woolf