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.
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.
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.”
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.