Published: 09:47, 11 September 2019
| Updated: 09:48, 11 September 2019
Money should be found to solve long-running issues with a problem lift providing beach access for the elderly and disabled, a councillor argues.
Cllr Ruth Bailey says the Viking Bay lift in Broadstairs requires “significant investment” after breaking down several times over the summer, and has called on the council to find funding to upgrade the “valuable” asset.
Until last week, the lift had been closed and a delay in its reopening was due to the waiting time for a specialist part.
Speaking at Thanet District Council’s meeting on Thursday, Cllr Bailey (Ind) said: “This summer, the lift has broken down several times and been out of order more often than not.
“Many elderly people, the disabled community and families with buggies, both local and holidaymakers, depend on this lift.
“As a ward councillor, I received complaints from people who say they have been denied access to the beach because the lift is not working, or who are worried about being stuck at the bottom if it suddenly breaks down.
“There are two alternative routes, but these involve very steep slopes and these routes prove challenging.
“At almost 20 years old, [the lift] needs significant investment.
“I have spoken to lift engineers when they have attended and it is their professional opinion that it does need significant investment.
“Rather than just reacting to problems, should we not just be proactive and invest money in upgrading the lift?”
In August, members of Access Thanet staged a protest at the lift, demanding it be fixed as soon as possible.
Cllr David Saunders (Con), cabinet member for financial services and estates, says the amount spent on the lift over the last three years is “quite considerable”, but assured that funding will be looked at.
He said: “Can I first say I was a member of the Broadstairs millennium committee who actually lobbied for the lift? So as a ward councillor also I take a very active interest in the lift.
“Rather than just reacting to problems, should we not just be proactive and invest money in upgrading the lift?"...Cllr Ruth Bailey
“The lift is maintained and has a regular service at the beginning of each season.
“It is fair to say this year we have experienced a number of issues. The parts needed have been received, installed, and extensively tested.
“I can confirm that the lift contractor has received eight calls and attended eight times since May 1.
“It was decided because it was an intermittent problem that it was best under safety procedures to actually close the lift down. That action was taken before we knew the timescale that was involved in getting the replacement parts.
“I have to say that we don’t have specific budgets for lifts, but the money that has been spent on it over the last three years is quite considerable and long may it remain because we do have an interest in that beach and retaining its clarification as a leisure beach.
“It would require a high degree of removal of the existing building structure in order to upgrade it but yes, it is something we will look at when we get down to sitting down and looking at the budgets.”