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June Garrad and Monique Bonney stranded in Swale council lift

Firefighters were called to council offices to free two councillors trapped in a lift.

Cllrs June Garrad and Monique Bonney were on the third floor and about to leave after a two-hour meeting at Swale House in East Street, Sittingbourne, last night when the doors failed to shut.

They remained just six inches apart with the women inside and the lift refusing to budge.

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Trapped: Cllrs Monique Bonney, left, and June Garrad on the floor sharing photos
Trapped: Cllrs Monique Bonney, left, and June Garrad on the floor sharing photos

June, a 74-year-old great grandmother, admitted: “I was very nervous. I don’t like lifts at the best of times and was worried it would suddenly drop. But at least we weren’t trapped between floors.

“We could see people through the gap trying to open the doors and that helped.”

When an emergency key failed and a maintenance man couldn’t override the system, Independent Cllr Bonney, who represents West Downs on Swale council, called the lift’s emergency number from her mobile phone.

Ukip Cllr Garrad, who lives in Minster Broadway on the Isle of Sheppey and represents Sheppey Central, said: "A young girl answered and said it would take at least two hours to get an engineer. My heart sank. I was dying to go to the loo."

The pair settled down for the long haul. After sipping cups of water handed through the gap in the doors they asked for wine and were given two glasses of Winter Pimms from the mayor’s parlour.

Two blankets from the First Aid room were also passed to the women.

Trying to help: Swale councillors including council leader Andrew Bowles, left, and Adrian Crowther, right, study the rogue lift
Trying to help: Swale councillors including council leader Andrew Bowles, left, and Adrian Crowther, right, study the rogue lift

Cllr Garrad said: "Monique was very good. When she saw I was getting worried we sat down on the floor and she started showing me photos of her trip to Lapland on her iPad to take my mind off it.

"I am so glad I was stuck with her and not some of the other councillors.

"When people outside asked what I needed I said I just wanted a cigarette and two hunky firemen to get me out.”

Firemen prepare to force open the doors
Firemen prepare to force open the doors
A fire engine outside Swale House
A fire engine outside Swale House

Unknown to her, Mark Radford had already called the fire brigade. It was his first major decision after being ratified as full-time chief executive at the earlier meeting.

On cue, two burly firefighters arrived after 30 minutes and forced open the doors.

Cllr Garrad said: "I was so delighted to see them I just gave them a big hug.”

Rescued!
Rescued!
Swale House Sittingbourne
Swale House Sittingbourne

An investigation will now be launched to find out what went wrong.

There are two lifts serving the three-storey building and the other was already out of action.

Cllr Garrad said: “They are always breaking down. I think I will take the stairs from now on.”

Swale council spokesman Philip Sutcliffe said: "The lifts at Swale House are the original installation from when the building was opened and have been regularly serviced over the years, with parts replaced when required.

"The incident was due to the door’s electronics isolating themselves when the sensors detected an obstruction in the way. This was easily reset by the engineers the next morning with no disruption to planned meetings.

"Given their age, the lifts are scheduled for a substantialrefurbishment, which is due to begin in the New Year.

"This will provide greater reliability going forward and ensure council officers, the public and visitors are able to access the building.”


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