Council seeks temporary repairs to open Viking Bay and Ramsgate seafront lifts for the summer

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

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.

Closure sign (image Ruth Bailey)

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.

Helen Kemp

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.”

Barry Stickings with son Toby

Mr Stickings added: “It is an interesting development and welcomed but it still leaves some concerns about the long term for the lifts.

“I think access is an issue with the matting and the route to reach it via Harbour Street extremely dangerous due to vehicles and lack of pedestrian pathways that are wide enough. The addition of the new disabled bays is a very positive step forward.
“I await the decision that will be taken in June with a timescale and maybe a decision on future funding from the council or a joint funding issue with another agency to keep these extremely important features of Ramsgate and Broadstairs seafront.”

10 Comments

  1. What has TDC and Waite with his 6 figure pay care of council tax money been doing for the past 12 months which he couldn’t do then what has doing now.Wheres his performance review for 2020 please?

    • You’re making a big assumption that senior officers at TDC partake in forward planning. Surely it’s best to only realise toilets/lifts need repair right as they are due to reopen rather than planning to do this during the off peak tourist season?

      There’s the common sense way and there is the Thanet Council way.

      Guess you can get away with it all the time you know you won’t ever be made accountable for your poor decisions by your Chief Executive.

  2. Congratulations Mr Stickings. Perhaps more local residents will take action following your positive example.

    It’s shameful that our elected councillors regardless of their political persuasion left it for a member of the public to embarrass our council administration to grudgingly agree to remedy the problem.

  3. I didn’t mean beluve of course! I love nothing about this ridiculous story. Thank goodness for people who go on asking questions in the face of people who don’t have the interests of the public at heart!

  4. Just a thought. Wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity for Blueberry – developers of the apartments/cafes/shops beside the Main Sands – to sponsor a vital community scheme on their doorstep. Repairing the historic lift would earn them enormous public gratitude and enable even more people, both disabled and able-bodied, to visit the commercial side of their project.

  5. I and others in Cliftonville would like access to Walpole Bay but cannot because the lift hasn’t worked for years but nobody at TDC is bothered about us over this way. Well done getting TDC to listen so quickly with Broadstairs and Ramsgate but they have ignored the disabled in Cliftonville.

    • Maybe because these people have been campaigning under their own identities? It’s up to you if you prefer to use a pseudonym, but people are genuinely taken far more seriously when using their real identities, as Helen Kemp, Barry Stickings and Christine Tongue have done.

  6. The persistent lack of transparency and incompetence ( even to follow procedure to put up / take down closure signs ) by the autocratic TDC is again highlighted . TDC are public servants and should serve the community , not themselves and “friends” . Thank you Mr Stickings and others for your actions – the disabled are being actively discriminated against . It is feared TDC will tighten a few bolts on the lifts which may work ad hoc – then have many meetings and put more permanent closure notices up . Agree with Mr Erlam ,your thoughts are super common sense for Ramsgate main sands .

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