Published: 16:35, 28 July 2021
| Updated: 18:28, 28 July 2021
A seafront lift has finally reopened following concerns about disabled access and weeks of delays.
Many were shocked when Thanet District Council announced in April the lifts at Viking Bay, Broadstairs, would be closed.
But the local authority reversed its decision and said it was trying to get them fixed by the summer season.
However, despite the council announcing the lift would reopen on June 21 after being shut since last year, it was delayed until this month.
The authority announced the Viking Bay facility would open on Monday, after repair work costing £17,000. The lift was reopened last Tuesday after the repairs were carried out.
Cabinet member for environmental services and special projects Cllr Bob Bayford (Con) welcomed the reopening.
"We’re delighted to report that the Viking Bay lift has now been repaired and open to the public in time for the summer holidays," he said.
"We know how valued this lift is to the local community, ensuring that our beautiful Viking Bay is accessible to all. I look forward to seeing it back in full working order."
A petition was launched urging two seafront lifts to be permanently repaired amid concerns about disabled access.
It was signed by more than 4,150 people and will remain active until the lifts are fixed permanently.
Barry Stickings MBE, who has a blind son called Toby, launched the petition earlier this year and called at the time for the Viking Bay and Eastcliff, Ramsgate, lifts to be permanently fixed.
He demanded the district council details how much they will cost to repair, what the long-term strategy is to keep them open all year and a guarantee the council will maintain them financially.
He said the alternative access routes for disabled visitors are not safe.
“It is really important for our area so anyone can come here and enjoy our facilities, including the beach, and not have to go down a dangerous route,” the 60-year-old added earlier this year.
In May, the council said it needed to invest a further £45,000 to help keep the lift, constructed in 2000, functioning over the next five years.
Over in Ramsgate, the authority confirmed the Edwardian beach lift, which dates back to 1912, is unlikely to reopen this year.
“There is less confidence with the Ramsgate lift due to the situation with the doors which are getting stuck because they are being squeezed against the steel supporting structure,” the cabinet report said earlier this year.
“We have an estimate from a lift engineering company of £20k to replace the entrance. However, this would need to be tendered and is the minimum required.
“The building has cracks and other refurbishment work should be undertaken to the building. This would be a large capital project that would need to be programmed following a successful capital bid.”
Christine Tongue, from Access Thanet, held a protest with other members at the lift in Viking Bay earlier this year.
She said diverting disabled people and those with prams to use “dangerous and steep” slopes to get to the beach is not good enough.
“Thanet council has been making promises and not kept them,” she said.
“We have held protests just to remind people that the problem is still here.”