‘Permanently closed’ signs removed from Viking Bay and Ramsgate East Cliff lifts

Ramsgate lift (photo by Frank Leppard) and Access Thanet campaigners at the Viking Bay lift last year

Signs declaring the seafront lifts at Viking Bay and the Eastcliff in Ramsgate as ‘permanently closed’ have been removed.

The signs were put up on April 1 along with notification of “alternative accessible routes to the beach.”

On Thanet council’s website an explanation said: ““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.”

The measures include matting installed in Broadstairs and additional disabled parking bays at Harbour Street Car Park in mid April.

But a public outcry followed, including the launching of a petition by resident Barry Stickings, saying the decision should be reversed and the lifts repaired.

Mr Stickings, whose son is blind, said closing the lifts was denying inclusiveness for many people. His petition has now gained more than 2,000 signatures of support

Now, the signs have been removed although both lifts are still out of action.

Closure sign (image Ruth Bailey)

A post on social media by Councillor Mike Garner says: “Both myself and Cllr Becky Wing, along with numerous other residents, wrote to the leader of the council at the end of last week calling on him to find a way to fix both the Viking Bay and East Cliff lifts for the Summer season and make sure they’re kept open.

“We had a reply from him and it seems that public pressure is having an impact. He told us that “Contrary to the signs which appeared last Thursday, no decision has been taken to close the lifts permanently and I have asked for those signs to be removed. In my view such a decision could only be taken by TDC politicians or on legal advice, for example because they are unsafe.’”

Cllr Garner says he has asked who authorised the signs saying the lifts are permanently closed.

He added: “I understand that they are now looking to open the lifts this year and that a paper will be presented to cabinet setting out all the issues to inform a proper discussion.”

Independent representative for Broadstairs, Cllr Ruth Bailey, had been calling for lift repairs at Viking Bay back in 2019.

Of the latest development she posted: “I received an email from a member of the CMT (council management team) on Easter Sunday to say that there would be meetings this week to see if there are any alternative approaches regarding the lift and that they would be in touch after that.

“I have also been exchanging emails with the portfolio holder and community representatives.  Of course, any decisions that are made should be transparent and in full consultation with all relevant parties at all levels including, importantly, those who most depend on using the lift whose voice, and experiences, should be heard.”

Cllr Mark Hopkinson posted to social media to say: “Council officers made this decision without consulting elected members.”

The next scheduled Cabinet meeting is on April 29.

Helen Kemp

Helen Kemp, from disability support group Access Thanet, said no consultation was carried out with members and the alternative route recommended in Broadstairs is unsafe.

She said: “Understanding of equalities legislation is that local councils should consult with those affected by decisions of this kind. They should pay ‘due regard’ and make reasonable adjustments.

“Until now, nobody has come to me or Access Thanet members to discuss the impact of the closures. If somebody had, the embarrassment of advising wheelchair users in Broadstairs to use the ‘alternative access to beach’ route might have been avoided.

“The route is one specifically proscribed by experts in the field. The camber past the arcade is dangerously steep and self propelling, powered or pushed wheelchairs should not be guided to use that route to Harbour Street.

“Harbour Street itself is crowded through summer and holiday times and cars of all kinds continue to use it. There is no pavement on one side and the narrowness of the other also makes it an unsafe as a general alternative to wheelchair and scooter users as well as those with walkers or sticks.

“Of course some residents and visitors have the strength and confidence to use this route but to have it ‘ officially ‘ recommended smacks of carelessness.”

Mrs Kemp has been told  “tens of thousands of pounds” would be required for Thanet council to fund repairs.

Find the petition by clicking here


  1. I hope this sorry saga ends well and the lifts are repaired. I would also suggest the route to Ramsgate sands is equally unsafe in terms of the steep hill either direction from the lift down to the harbour. Irrespective of safety, it is hardly a suitably accessible alternative for those pushing wheelchairs either.

    Perhaps reverse the funding to the white elephant Thanet Parkway and invest in something the residents actually DO want. Good lifts. Working lifts.

    Instead, we get the lifts fixed in the multi storey car park which appear only to be used as toilets. Utterly putrid.

    How or why is TDC operating in such an autocratic and undemocratic way?

  2. “it seems that public pressure is having an impact”

    Keep up the good fight folks, as I certainly will!

  3. I wonder if it is Gavin Waite who has overall responsibility for the lifts. Given the appalling way this has been handled without talking to elected members I still doubt very much whether he will get put to rights by the Chief Executive.

    No conflict of interest here at all.

    What a farce.

  4. I don’t know what all the fuss is about, disabled people could be lowered up and down the cliffs by rope couldn’t they?

    • If you can’t say anything sensible don’t say anything
      This is not a laugh I matter.

    • Thank you for sharing your lightning whit and intellect – it must take some special level of disability on your behalf not to realise people are laughing at you not with you .

        • Thank you Dimton – let’s all ‘ave a good ole larf – expect parents with disabled children are really thankful for your humour .
          Time & place Dimton .

          • I have a disabled child and it’s clear he was being ironic and mocking the decision of the council. There was nowt wrong with his comment.

          • Dear Not Impressed pleased to be advised by yourself ,Dimptons ironic comments were apparently mocking the council .

  5. Once again it appears TDC officers don’t care about the people they serve or their elected representatives. My fantastic councillor Becky Wing was as surprised as I was to see the official TDC signs at the Ramsgate lift. Did the leader of the council councillor Everett know or was this the council officers avoiding scrutiny once again.

  6. TDC really do seem to excel at this sort of nonsense. I wonder when they will learn that they have a responsibility to maintain our heritage here in Thanet, rather than just try to sell it off to make up for the money they spend on Brett’s pontoons, for example, or on the wrong sort of replacement refuse vehicles. Hopefully people are starting to realize that we need to campaign constantly in the face such poor governance to protect not only for what these lifts represent in the way of heritage, but the vital support they offer to local residents who are less able to access the beaches without them. We must all make sure we use our votes wisely in the coming elections to ensure we have people on the Council who really care, rather than who just pretend to do so.

  7. Once again many of those who stand for office here show they have no idea how democracy is meant to work.
    A senior councillor for the ruling group is quoted as saying that officers failed to consult councillors. He has got this upside down and seems quite unable to grasp that in a democracy the elected members should be in charge. Their role is not simply to be ‘consulted’’ by their own paid employees.
    Thank goodness we now have a few new councillors who seem determined to put this nonsense right.

  8. The lifts need reopening including the Walpole Bay lift which was closed earlier than the other two. Why can’t all the lifts be maintained for the disabled, elderly and those with buggies? If council money can be wasted on projects for private buisnesses then it should be found for essentials like lifts and better access. Money comes in through government schemes but never spent on the right projects for the public.

  9. My late father – in – law was one of the volunteers running the Broadstairs Lift, he said that it was very busy, being used by disabled people and families with children in pushchairs in the season. Obviously it is still very much needed for this,on top of which the beach steps can be quite daunting for people like me, afraid of heights and terrified of using them!

  10. I think this ongoing lack of democracy and transparency needs escalating to central government. These ongoing autocratic (and often poor) decisions need scrutinising, there are so many of them.

    Pontoons the client didn’t ask for.
    No environmental assessment completed for said pontoons.
    Surprise ’emergency’ bin vans of the wrong type.
    Lifts declared unfixable by an unknown person without authority.
    Local plan that is an insult to housing strategy.

    What else can we add to this list?

    We need change not just gentle washing back n forth red blue red blue with various declarations of independence when a pet project doesn’t go a red or blue way.

  11. TDC must be pressurised into preserving such cultural assets, as part of local heritage. Well done to those local individuals for not accepting this lift’s permanent closure. There are numerous other lifts in Thanet worthy of saving through a coordinated campaign. Residents living in Margate ,Ramsgate and Broardstairs in particular are sick and tired of the neglect of public assets and then their rock bottom sale.

  12. I think TDC need to find some reliable contractors that actually know what they are doing and can maintain the lifts. Seems to be a problem with all lifts in thanet weather sea front or blocks of flats

  13. How much have the council spent putting up scaffolding and repairing the top of the Ramsgate lift.? OK it looks nice but if the lift isn’t working they may as well have pulled it down. Local disabled and elderly residents look forward each year to the lift opening as it is the only viable way to get to the seafront. Let’s get them open ASAP-we pay our council tax to be able to use the facilities .

  14. It’s funny how they (TDC) found the money to purchase a run down dreamland but cannot find the money to fix or replace lifts for the council tax payers of Thanet, as usual with TDC a total shambles and lip service, but is anyone surprised.

  15. Really glad and thankful to all those that rallied round to pressure this decision, especially those that aren’t effected by the decision but took the time to make a stand and make it better for those that rely on these lifts to have a nice day at the beach and seafront.

    The families it helps really do appreciate it.

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