Thanet council says efforts are being made to reopen the seafront lifts at Viking Bay and Ramsgate’s East Cliff this summer.
On April 1 signs were installed to say both lifts were permanently closed, provoking an outcry from residents, ward councillors and disability group Access Thanet.
A petition was also launched by resident Barry Stickings, saying the decision should be reversed and the lifts repaired.
Mr Stickings, whose son Toby is blind, said closing the lifts was denying inclusiveness for many people. His petition gained more than 2,000 signatures of support.
The signs were removed yesterday (April 7) and although both lifts are still out of action the pledge to investigate temporary repairs to reopen them for the summer has now been made.
Corporate Director of Communities, Gavin Waite, said: “The seaside lifts at Viking Bay and Ramsgate are currently closed and require repair work before they can be safely opened this year. Whilst the provision of the lifts is not a statutory requirement, we are doing everything we can to coordinate temporary repairs to allow the lifts to open in time for the summer season. We will confirm the timescales as soon as we can.
“We need to be clear however that both lifts require further extensive repair due to the age and condition of the structures and this could impact on the feasibility of keeping them operational for the whole summer season. A report will be presented to the Cabinet in June outlining the extent of the issues and the associated costs in order to inform a longer-term decision”.
The council has provided alternative accessible routes to the beach: with matting installed at one side of the beach (Harbour Street, Broadstairs) to lengthen the boardwalk and allow for alternative accessible routes to the beach and four additional disabled parking bays at Harbour Street Car Park in mid April, bringing the total to eight. Blue Badge holders will be reminded that they can park for free in any available parking bay providing they display their badge.
Access onto the boardwalk at Viking Bay through the Pavilion pub gardens will be available when the venue is open.
However, Helen Kemp, from Access Thanet, says there is confusion about what information the council already has and she says the alternative route indicated in Broadstairs is unsafe.
She said: “Any plan by TDC to establish the extent and costs of repairs to enable the lifts at Ramsgate and Broadstairs to open for the long term is welcome. However there remains confusion about the timescale to present a full report in to the council in June.
“We have been recently informed that information was already available indicating tens of thousands of pounds is required. This means that either the technical information was already available or we have a delay of two more months because the analysis has not already taken place. Hard to glean which it is.
“TDC and Broadstairs Town Council logos are on the signs which direct people to an alternative ‘accessible route’. We have pointed out that despite matting in the sand, the route is actually unsafe for people who use mobility aids and wheelchairs.
“Professional advice is that the camber past the arcade in Broadstairs is not a safe slope for wheelchairs in particular. If wheelchair users can get to Harbour Street they will find no pavement on one side and no dropped pavement for crossing. They have to use the road itself which is also used by vehicles and is not a safe alternative.
“Simply consulting with people with disabilities would have avoided the embarrassment of such a public mistake.”
Mr Stickings added: “It is an interesting development and welcomed but it still leaves some concerns about the long term for the lifts.