A Thanet disability group is appealing to Thanet council to reconsider a decision to keep the lifts at Viking Bay and Ramsgate’s East Cliff closed.
The lifts are shut due to the need for social distancing to limit the transmission of coronavirus.
The closure was listed in the council’s beach management plan.
But Access Thanet say having the lifts operational is essential for elderly and disabled people, who have experienced the loneliness and isolation of the pandemic lockdown, to be able to reach the beaches.
The group says with the reopening of beach huts, cafes, bars and hairdressers the logic for keeping the lifts closed “escapes” them and they have questioned why there was no consultation carried out.
Access Thanet chairperson Helen Kemp said: “For many there is no other possible access to the sand or the promenades at sea level. Alternatives like Harbour Street or the slope at Louisa Bay have been suggested by officers in the past but they present a real danger to people with mobility difficulties and those with small children in buggies. There is no pavement in places and the steepness is a concern.”
Helen has communicated with four local councillors and two Thanet officers. She suggested security staff recently employed at Broadstairs, could assist with monitoring lift usage and allowing priority use by those who need it for beach access. She also offered to find volunteers to support the lift opening for a limited number of hours each day.
Helen said: “Access for people with disabilities in Thanet does not seem to be anyone’s priority despite legislation that should ensure equality of access to leisure facilities.
“I know of visitors who come to Broadstairs or rent beach huts specifically because there is lift access. No thought seems to have been given to them.”
Chairperson of Broadstairs Tourism and Leisure Association Mike Bridges said: “This will have an adverse effect on tourism. Many elderly and less physically able people visit here because they know there is a lift.”
The group say the manager of Lilliput mini golf is also concerned at the number of visitors he knows who need the lift to get to the beach.
Access Thanet awaits a response to emails sent in the last few days and remains hopeful that the council will reverse the decision.
A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Our seafront lifts at Viking Bay and Ramsgate Main Sands remain closed as a result of the national social distancing measures currently in place to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This will continue to be reviewed in line with government advice.”