Community backing for petition calling for Ramsgate and Broadstairs seafront lifts to be repaired and reopened

Closure sign (image Ruth Bailey)

More than 1,300 people have signed a petition in just three days calling on Thanet council to reverse its decision to shut the seafront lifts at Viking Bay and Ramsgate’s East Cliff.

Signs were installed outside both lifts on April 1 to notify people of their ‘permanent closure.’

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.”

But the decision has angered residents in both towns who say the lifts must be repaired and put back into use.

Photo Frank Leppard

Resident Barry Stickings raised the petition, saying: “This is not good enough and needs to be addressed ASAP, if they were working last year, how can it be that these lifts are now beyond repair?

“This impacts massively on our disabled community. I have a son who is blind, the lift is helpful for him on some occasions but more so for those who have other issues. This impacts severely on our disabled community and disabled visitors. The solution of matting is not good enough.

“These lifts are part of Broadstairs and Ramsgate. Visitors flock to our beautiful towns and love the fact that its open to all to use all amenities. Sadly, Thanet council now taken this away. It will have an impact not only on them but our local shops and businesses who some will no longer be able to reach.

“Spend the money, repair the lifts, and give our disabled people the same level of inclusion and access as their peers. Everybody needs access and our disabled community and visitors will lose access because of this decision. Please support this (petition) so TDC will reverse this decision.”

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

Disability group Access Thanet has been campaigning for the Viking Bay lift to be reopened since last year.

Chairperson Helen Kemp 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.”

It is understood there has been some discussion about using ‘Levelling Up’ grant money from government to fund lift repairs although this has not yet been confirmed.

Mr Stickings was made an MBE in 2017  for services to children with a visual impairment and his involvement with national charity MACS ( Microphthalmia, Anophthalmia & Coloboma Support) which supports children born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes. In February 2019 he started BAAM Bilateral Anophthalmia and Me. BAAM’s aim is to provide support to those affected by Bilateral Anophthalmia (BA) -born without both eyes.

He has written to Thanet council leader Rick Everitt, Thanet’s two MPs and Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disability, outlining concerns over the lift closures and detailing why the decision should be reversed.

Find the petition by clicking here

34 Comments

  1. I think TDC have a responsibility to repair all lifts isn’t there a law that says even wheel chair users must be able to access the same as able bodied people. It’s another disgraceful dish they buy stuff that the port does not need but don’t spend on stuff we do need as a holiday town or county come to that. I’m sharing and and signing

  2. The needs of the less able , and of the families with small children [including those who come as tourists] are callously disregarded by all levels of councils. This is surely one of the most serious handicaps to the promotion of Ramsgate and Broadstairs as wonderful coastal centres for attracting visitors and encouraging trade. Why has there been no serious attempt to attract government money towards this at a time when grants of considerable size are being given to rejuvenate Thanet?
    Why too has there been no attempt to put this problem before the very wealthy who live in the area, some of whom could be attracted to put up the considerable sums needed to provide lasting disability access?

  3. The popular Walpole Bay beach is also restricted to those without disabilities. The lift has been out of action for years and there is no sign of any repairs to get it going again. Thanet Council has a bad reputation for not looking after the essentials on our coastal paths and promenades. They can’t even get the toilets open because they have not been maintained. Dereliction of duty comes to mind. “It’s only the disabled” they must say in their meetings. Shame on them!

  4. Its really sad that these important lifts for people with disabilities are closed.

    They are well used and need.

    Perhaps if the art community used them they would be repaired, always money for the art sector is there.

  5. TDC have a very long history of neglecting the very things that attract tourists to the area (for example, history tells us that Margate jetty was washed away in a storm in 1978, but 2 years before that it was closed because it had fallen into disrepair!).

  6. Will TDC ever listen or respond to what seems a steady stream of relevant and evidence based criticism onnany topic you could choose.

    Councils are here to serve the community. Where is the scrutiny and accountability?

    • Sir Roger Gale is usually pretty hot on disability issues, has anyone politely brought this to his attention?

  7. The Council’s senior management team do not care one bit about the local residents. They are far too busy back stabbing each other in their demented version of Game of Thrones to actually focus on improving things for the people whose Council Tax goes up every year.

    It wouldn’t be so dire if we had elected members in a position of power to hold the senior managers to account but the current Cabinet lack the will, skills and intellect to do this. All they do is nod through everything the senior executives want to do with no challenge or scrutiny at all.

    It’s a really sad state of affairs and fairly unsurprising that Thanet is the laughing stock of the local government world.

  8. oh-oh, I feel another JR coming on.
    Perhaps it’s time for Councillors to instigate a Vote of ‘No Confidence’ on some Senior Council Officers.
    Time for a change?

  9. How many people actually use the Ramsgate lift?
    Certainly no one does during the winter, because it’s closed. I’ve hardly ever seen many people using it even when it’s open during the summer.
    For example, at the Loop bus stops by the harbour, you’ll always see people waiting. By the lift doors? Just about never.
    And that’s not saying no one ever used the lift – simply that it seems to ne very very few did.
    Are there any actual stats?

      • Yes.
        It would be an abuse of public funds to spend, for example, £5,000,000 on facilities for one disabled (or any other sort of) person, thus depriving 1000s of other people with facilities. There is a limited amount of money.
        That’s why I asked how many people use the lift.

  10. Incompetent officers, elected members content to bank their allowances meanwhile Thanet falls down – this has been the case for far too long.
    Elected reps need to lead with vision, reflecting the aspirations of residents and officers need to step up or step out.
    I’m sick of the whole lot of them.

  11. Lifts are incredibly expensive things to build and maintain, getting more so year by year and as such represent a considerable cost to the area. How much use do they actually get when working? The issue of disability access is a bit disingenuous, if there is no lift for anyone then its hardly discriminatory. Each of the isles carparks has disabled spaces just asblue badge holders have the option to park where others may not.
    They would no doubt be a nice thing to have but are really a bit of a luxury that we can’t afford. We’ve just sold off / given away a prime chunk of margate seafront in order to bail us out of another piece of flawed council procedure, the port is another ongoing fiasco , portaloos are hardly the answer to the need for toilet facilities.
    We’re skint, have no real income and far too many people wanting more cash and a current administration fixated on the special interest groups of the moment rather than the basics of running a seaside town.
    Things will most certainly not get better in the near future. Unless of course we all vote for a humungous increase in council tax for our leaders to squander”

    • It IS discriminatory if the lifts have fallen into disrepair and aren’t repaired. Completely different to there never being any lifts in the first place.

      • No. It’s discriminatory if the TDC chooses not to repair the lifts because it *only* affects less able people.
        Since a not working lift can’t be used by anyone, it’s not discrimination to close it.

        • That’s like saying it would be OK to remove ramps outside shops because able-bodied people also walk on them. The fact is that disabled people rely on lifts, while the more fortunate ones like myself can use stairs instead.

          • But there is still access available to the areas served by the lifts for all, the car parks have disabled spaces, there are ramps onto the beaches. Where exactly are the disabled being excluded from specifically?

          • Getting down from the top if they don’t drive. Not that familiar with Ramsgate, but it’s a very long way round from the top at Viking Bay for people arriving by bus or living near the top.

          • Discrimination can be evidenced from the impact a particular decision or policy has on people with protected characteristics.

            So, in this example, someone has made a policy decision that these lifts are not to be repaired as they haven’t got the money. To accompany this new policy (ie the decommissioning of the lifts) they should have carried out an Equality Impact Assessment to measure the impact this has on members of the community to see if it unfairly disadvantages key groups. If this assessment would have been carried out (which I doubt) it would have no doubt highlighted the impact on disabled people. Regardless of this, the Council have continued with the policy and decommissioned the lifts having been well aware of the impact this has on disabled people.

            If anyone is so minded, asking for a copy of the Equality Impact Assessment under the FOI act may be a good starting point to successfully challenge the decision. Labour Cabinet members should be making sure these are done in reality but I doubt this level of scrutiny and challenge is actually going on.

  12. People who cannot walk easily, or those in a wheelchair cannot get up to or down from the prom easily without lifts. Try pushing a manual chair up the hills and then perhaps you’ll understand how important lifts are.

    Aside from access being an afterthought for the disabled which peppers so many decisions (no staff at Cliffsend Station) why is it not the case that access leads decision making and priorities?

    For TDC to slap on a sign saying “nah, too expensive/too difficult” in contrast to spending millions unchecked on pontoons or new waste lorries we are quite right to demand who says so, and why.

    • They’re also declaring a “climate emergency” while almost forcing disabled to get down by car instead.

  13. Actually thought this was a bad April Fools .
    How many meetings did TDC have to design the closure notices for the lifts and then how to put them up ?
    At present unable to use disabled parking on Marina Road / Esplanade car park , Ramsgate due to detritus / caravans from Travellers who kindly have taken it over .
    All the lifts are a feature , the ones that were working were fun for some , essential for others . If they are all that expensive sell them off TDC like you do with every other asset with potential , better still knock them down , build more flats – so the minority can assume the beach is theirs . Yes lets make the beaches just for those the are not disabled or have prams etc -it would be sooo much cheaper and easier for TDC .
    Appalling attitude regards the needs of the disabled – discriminators , there will be a time when maybe £ is spent to aid your few needs over the majority – don’t worry your ventilator will be switched off to save us all money .

  14. Interestingly, a look at Thanet Council’s capital budget for this year reveals where their priorities are. A new Finance computer System to replace their current, perfectly usable Finance system. Very convenient for them but absolutely no beneficial impact for the taxpayers.

    Also, the budget report reveals an underspend for last year’s capital budget of over £11 million. How much does it cost to repair two lifts?

    The argument that they cannot afford to repair these is total hogwash. They simply want to spend their cash on other things that will benefit them and their staff with no regard for the local residents who pay an ever increasing amount of Council Tax each year.

    Still no comments from elected Labour members on this issue. How strange. It’s almost as if the officers run the Council and the elected members don’t really have a say in what happens at all.

  15. Probably only cost the takings of one day car parking around the area as it seems to be a main earner. Hundreds of thousands being given for the town improvement which will be wasted as it seems counsellors can’t find their brain cells.

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