Published: 15:25, 18 September 2013
Families are to start paying to take buggies on the Leas Lift in Folkestone as part of the new pricing model for next year.
It has prompted outrage with parents baulking at the idea of buying a ‘buggy ticket’.
But the lift operators are defending the move, saying it is a growing problem because they can no longer cater for the same number of passengers with more and more people using “oversized, jogging buggies”.
The Lift already charges 70p extra for bikes but this will be brought in line with the ‘buggy ticket’ which will cost parents another 50p.
They say this will go some way to compensating for the loss of space but hopes it is not so much as to deter families from riding the lift.
But child prices (over six-years-old) will be reduced from 70p to 50p under the new model, a full fare will remain £1.
Terry Begent, the Lift’s director, said the biggest problem was the health and safety of their drivers.
He said: “I can appreciate that some people will think that we are making too much of this issue but it is becoming a real problem for us.
“It’s about balancing things out and making things fair for everybody.
“There is no way that we can expect or allow our staff to lift the weight that some of these fully-loaded buggies can present.”
The Lift is one of Folkestone’s greatest charms but it opened in 1885 when buggies and mobility scooters were not an issue.
And despite a major overhaul in 1985 which installed disabled access with a wheelchair lift at the upper station, these facilities have become outdated for the new size buggies and there is not the space to redesign the listed building.
But deciding what a large buggy is, is “the 64,000 dollar question”.
Mr Begent added: “It’s really up to the driver’s discretion. If people can fold up a buggy that’s fine.”
Also among planned changes are to introduce a fee for dogs that are too big to sit in their owners’ laps.
More reaction in this week's Folkestone Kentish Express - out Thursday.
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