Seafront lifts at Viking Bay and Ramsgate to remain shut due to being ‘beyond repair’

Closure sign (image Ruth Bailey)

The Viking Bay lift in Broadstairs and the Eastcliff lift in Ramsgate will remain shut,’ ward councillors have been told.

Signs informing people of the closures were installed today (April 1).

Broadstairs ward councillors have been informed that the Viking Bay lift was “beyond repair and any repairs were financially prohibitive so it would have to be permanently closed.”

One councillor says TDC said there is no money in the budget to finance the level of repairs required and that any repairs would not guarantee that the lift would last the season.

Members of Access Thanet previously asked for the Viking Bay lift to be reopened

On the Thanet council website a statement says: “Unfortunately our seaside lifts at Viking Bay and Ramsgate remain closed. Even if temporary repairs can be made to get the lifts open, contractors have advised there is no guarantee they will stay working during the season.

“A long-term strategy for both lifts will be formulated to consider their future. In the meantime, the council has measures in place to allow for alternative accessible routes to the beach, which include:

  • Matting installed at one side of the beach (Harbour Street, Broadstairs) to lengthen the boardwalk and allow for alternative accessible routes to the beach.
  • Installing four additional disabled parking bays at Harbour Street Car Park in mid April. Blue Badge holders will be reminded that they can park for free in any available parking bay providing they display their badge.”

When the Pavilion pub in Broadstairs is open there will be discussions about extending the agreement for disabled access through the venue’s garden.

Disability group Access Thanet say having the Viking Bay lift operational is essential for elderly and disabled people. Members have been campaigning for them to be reopened since last year.

Helen Kemp, who leads the group, says she was told “tens of thousands of pounds” would be required for repairs but has questioned how this figure has been reached. She said: “After money was spent last year, I was informed by a TDC senior officer that the Viking Bay lift was working on August 24. It’s therefore hard to understand why it’s now not useable.

“This matter cannot rest with so little information sharing and consultation.”
Photo Frank Leppard

The Grade II Eastcliff lift, which dates to 1910, recently underwent repairs after the roof was stripped. It was one of only five of the rare type of seaside structure which remained open to the public.

The lift ceased operations in the 1990s, and the structure subsequently fell into disrepair. In 1999 it was restored as part of a seafront regeneration scheme, and re-opened in April of that year.

60 Comments

    • What’s that got to do with the price of fish? Far more people, from all over Thanet, would have been impacted by not having trucks to take their rubbish when all the old ones started to break down, compared to the comparatively small amount of people who will be impacted by the closure of a lift! Can you imagine the chaos? What’s more important? RT

  1. Im sorry. I do not believe a word of it. The lift at Viking Bay is just 21 years old!! The Victorians built such things to last 100 years for goodness sake. I am sure it is not beyond the wit of man to repair such a structure or its mechanics. The proverb ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ comes to mind 😡

  2. As I understand it, and I may be wrong, TDC used council tax payers money to “assist” the anti-Manston Airport court case without asking us for our permission. That could have gone to repairing these lifts.

    • Yes, you are wrong.
      TDC has no involvement with the JR which challenged the (as it turns out) illegal overturning of the Planning Inspectorate decision by the SoS.

  3. The Council have effectively barred access to all disabled, wheelchair users and the infirm. This is a public beach enjoyed by many who visit each year to be able to use the beach facilities for the disabled that were kindly provided, we have the sand wheelchairs there but now no way to get the disabled to them.
    Thanet Council need to act.

    • David, I’m in total agreement with you! It is difficult enough pushing someone in a wheelchair up or down Harbour Street, yet alone attempting to self propel one!

  4. Can’t afford to repair lifts but can afford to pay out over £250,000 last year in gagging orders for staff. Can afford to waste almost £100k in the Trinity Square ticketless parking debacle. Can afford to waste shed loads of cash setting up the preposterous beach WiFi system.

    It’s shocking. I would say the Labour Cabinet should be ashamed of this but they’ll just nod it all through as usual. We’ll have to look to the opposition party leaders to challenge on this.

  5. Absolutely disgraceful treatment of disabled people. How about the council trying to raise the money from national government or public subscription? They can’t just leave these valuable assets closed.

  6. A few years ago TDC spent £1.6 million on a linkspan at the terminal in the hope someone would come and use it but no one did it is laying rusting away. £ 100,000 a year to dredge the sand that keeps coming and coming and will do until they get off their backsides and remedy what’s causing it the design of the terminal.

  7. TDC have the funds to repair these lifts but as normal for them, They would rather close their eyes and turn their backs. Wait awhile and we’ll hear they sold them cheap, then new owner will want large charge to use them to regain there costs although they would of got funding of government to repair. TDC at its best as normal. bloody joke and total failure.

  8. Make the limited parking at the harbour in Broadstairs disabled only then they can have access to the beach. Just a couple of extra spaces is not good enough. Able bodied people can park in the car parks up top.

  9. Unacc.toilets at margate clock tower still not repaired after 2 years allocated funds.eptable table from a negative mindset council swimming in council tax

    • Far from swimming from 12p in the pound collected out of the council tax.. Most goes to KCC.
      However it’s very frustrating and annoying to see assets like these lifts or the wonderful fountain in Dane Park fall in to such a state it becomes unaffordable to renovate 😒

  10. estimates to restore the original lift was for a small sum compared to the cost of the new lift but the council new better. toilets are closed in margate due to work the council undertook which damaged the roof

  11. RTC seem to be dishing out plenty of money these days, so surely they could afford to get the east cliff lift repaired.

  12. The beach is still accessible to disabled people. I would rather the money be spent on something everyone will benefit from than a very small minority, for a tiny percentage of the year.

    • Jerry Tone one day you may find yourself on sticks or in a wheel chair. It could happen to any of us, not a tiny minority. We all grow old and decrepit. I don’t wish it on you, but please respect people who live with disability.

      • I wrote small minority not tiny. Out of the general population, a small minority are disabled. If I were to become disabled I certainly wouldn’t be crying about not being able to use a lift to the beach, I would probably be crying because I had lost the use of my legs. Just use the other ways to easily access the beach and move on. Some people like to use disability as an excuse to get what they want.

        • Telling a disabled person to cry over not being able to use their legs and then “move on”! What kind of heartless universe do you live in? Try using a wheelchair for a day and find out for yourself what moving anywhere is like!

          • Christine Tongue jerry Tone would probably cry his heart out because his pub is not wheelchair friendly sad little man the discrimination in Thanet towards disabled people never ceases to amaze me

  13. So the excuse to keep the lifts closed last season was Covid / social distancing , this year it’s the lifts are beyond economical repair ! Mmmmmmmm !

  14. There are too many “glass half empty” people, not enough “glass half full”.
    All they see us problems, rather than solution opportunities.
    The 100 year old lifts are too expensive (our taxes) to maintain. So they can’t be used any longer, making it impossible to access the beach by that method.
    A solution has already been put in place: additional disabled parking. Given that almost every disabled visitor will have driven (or been driven) to the seaside, then that should have the problem sorted.
    If it turns out that there are more disabled people wanting to visit the beach than dedicated parking bays allow, then quickly and cheaply a few more bays can be assigned.
    It really is absurd to say that disabled people have been treated disgracefully. TDC didn’t arrange for the lifts to break, in order to distress disabled people!
    Crowd funding sounds like a good idea. Perhaps one of those in favour of keeping the lifts going could set up a page. Does anyone know what the costs of a) fixing the lifts and b) keeping them running are likely to be?

    • Extra parking is not the answer. We should help people who don’t have cars or just want to use their wheel chairs as other people use their legs! What’s wrong with prioritising disability over other local spending?

      • It’s the Utilitarian Principle, isn’t it?
        TDC has a finite amount of money, and it has to spend that money in such a way that it benefits most of the people, most if the time. It would be irrational to spend large sums of money on lifts that are only needed by a few, and then not to be able to empty our bins, because the bin lorries are broken.
        I’m dead keen that people should use public transport, and we are fortunate in Thanet that there are several beaches accessible by bus.

  15. Another consequence of the useless bunch at TDC and the same old ‘neglect it long enough, let it fall down, save money’ mentality – yet, £2m to the white elephent station at Cliff End?

    • Remember that the “useless bunch at TDC” are the ones we collectively voted in at the last election.
      I would posit that they’re not quite so useless as the ones before the current bunch.

  16. ‘Permanently closed? Why not until further notice? I assume the issue is money. The 20 year old Broadstairs landmark (yes, only 20 years) will, it is assumed, become just an iconic symbol of failure. An embarrassing White Elephant for visitors to raise their eyebrows at and for residents who require assisted access to the beach a rude reminder of misguided financial priorities. What a step back!

  17. Unlimited amounts available as hush money to stop retiring employees from telling us (the ones who provide the money) what really goes on in this organisation but no money to repair and maintain the historical infrastructure that could be the basis for the rebuilding of our town’s prosperity – from which all residents would benefit.
    But we must always remember that the people who make these decisions are democratically elected. Every time you give your vote to one of the knackered old parties who have run our town into the state it’s in you give them a licence to kick us in the teeth again.

  18. When I took voluntary severance (early retirement) from my job, I was offered a lump sum. One of the conditions for this offer was that I would not (for example) write derogatory letters about my employment to the press (for example). Hush money? If you like. It doesn’t follow that my employers were corrupt or incompetent (any more than any other organization).

    • Certainly doesn’t prove it. But didn’t you wonder why they required it? Especially if you got more than your statutory entitlement on condition you signed.

  19. You’ve only got to look at the state of the kerb drainage along the road outside the comfort Inn Hotel on the east cliff to see the ability of TDC management ,where the acco drains join the gutters in the road parking areas they are all silted up thus preventing proper road drainage this is easily sorted by road sweepers using a shovel and broom to do an efficient job at no extra cost to wage structure THERE ROAD SWEEPERS ,this highlights the level of man management in our council nobody is checking the works carried out by menials . If you compare this to lift maintenance it equates to the fact those in charge of said lifts haven’t got a clue about running a simple hoist mechanism that runs these apparatus ,these mechanical lifts can be run on a yearly safety check or whatever is deemed safest to ensure a good long working life and if replacement is required then it can be budgeted in an alloted programme of maintenance , quite simple one would think but again its TDC.

  20. I don’t know about the Viking Bay lift, but the Ramsgate lift has a door that is not in great condition.
    It can be fixed up to last a season or two at a reasonable cost, but the door does need replacing and the lift does require refurbishing, and that will cost a significant sum of money.
    Not running it during the off season does not help.
    Leaving it shut is not really an option,as it will mean another part of the visitor offer is left derelict. If Ramsgate is to garner benefit from the stay-cation boom,TDC need to think again.
    I am not sure about crowdfunding.They work on fixed purpose, mainly short term objectives, but the lift(s) need long term funding, and ongoing care and maintenance. Crowdfunding the capital renewal just once, is a possibility, but then let TDC manage it, as they have done since 1999, when the EU crowdfunded the refurbishment, maybe not?

  21. The ramsgate lift is adjacent to the new Blueberry development, has tdc contacted blueberry to see if they are interested in some public relations help out. Get Blueberry to fix the two mentioned lifts, there are different avenues of how they could assist but they have access to many experts (many on site now).

    If tdc were canny, they could get the two lifts up and running for very little spend.

    Maybe tdc are not fixing the lifts due to fund bretts new mega pontoon, cost could be £2m + and a blt more !

    • I agree.
      Use section 106 money from developers for repairs to these iconic and much needed landmarks.
      Consider crowd funding – I’d put a couple of quid in the pot to get them fixed

  22. I commented
    last year on this subject saying then that it was not likes to be open again thanks to the shortsightedness ofTDC ,Viking bay is the jewel if Thanet’s bays Money must be found to repair and
    reopen the lift as a matter of extreme urgency

    • How many visitors to Ramsgate actually use the lift?
      Almost all visitors (sadly) come by car, and park in the Marina car park (right be the sea), Pier Yard (right by the sea) or Harbour Parade (right by the sea). I would say that the Ramsgatw lift is a novelty, and used by very, very few people as an essential piece of transport infrastructure.

  23. The answer is the close down of TDC and its limited powers transferred to Ramsgate Town Council, Broadstairs & St Peters Town Council and Birchington Parish council and a similar body for Margate & Westgate set up.

    Major items like roads, street lighting, schools, social services, etc are already handled by KCC.

    In transferring powers away from TDC no TDC management and councillors to be allowed to gain employment in the organisations taking over.

    TDC is not an asset it is a liability that needs removing.

    • The councillors were voted in by local residents, not foisted upon us by central government. All this criticism of TDC is coming from the people who voted them in!

  24. In response to Marva reeve
    I agree but they have not proved their worth, and a vote of no confidence would determine whether we want them or not.

    • We get a vote of “no confidence”. It’s called the Local Elections.
      And what do you think any responsible council should do? Consider the viability and economics of the situation, or respond to the baying mob?

      • Democracy determines that the public has the right to change thing if the current situation is not working,roll on the next elections.

  25. Find out the cost, start collecting funds from the public! Kids LOVE to go with the lifts too and for mums with strollers, it’s a lift from heaven because the alternative is horizontal pushing the stroller up a cliff. (or holding on to it for dear life on the way down)

    I’m sure many people would be happy to help, Go fund me pages online or more hands on with volunteers on the streets.

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