The Edwardian seafront lift at Ramsgate’s East Cliff will remain shut “for the foreseeable future,” according to a report to Thanet council Cabinet members.
The Ramsgate lift and the Viking Bay lift in Broadstairs both had ‘permanently shut’ notices place on them on April 1 this year.
However, a public outcry followed, including the launching of a petition by resident Barry Stickings, whose son is blind , saying the decision should be reversed and the lifts repaired.
Six days later the signs were removed but the lifts remained out of action.
A pledge was made by Thanet council to investigate the costs and feasibility of reopening the lifts, which provide access to the beaches for many people with disabilities and people with prams and buggies. It was announced that surveys would be carried out on both lifts with a view to bringing them both back into operation.
It was discussed at a council meeting in May and again in June when Mr Stickings’ petition with 2180 valid signatures was presented, requesting that the seaside lifts at Viking Bay and Ramsgate be reopened.
Following works costing £17,500 the Viking Bay lift opened to the public on July 19. Work included major service wear items such as ropes, guides, sensors, the refurbishment of the butcher tank which holds the hydraulic oil, replacement of ground floor doors and a new electrical circuit board. All of the items were bespoke and had been manufactured by local companies.
A report to councillors due to meet on August 31, says: “The lift is now in serviceable order, however there are ongoing issues with the control room which houses the new electrical board and hydraulics is in disrepair with the main issue being water ingress which will shorten the service life of new and refurbished components.
It is expected that the lift will close at the end of September when all summer resources are stood down.
However, the Ramsgate lift has no reopening date earmarked.
There has been a £25,000 spend on repairing water damaged components following the theft of the lead roof at the start of 2021 but a further £35,000 is needed to replace the whole first floor entrance, control equipment, systems, operating panel, electrical circuit board wiring and much more.
Further investment is also needed for the lift structure, balustrades and finished surfaces. The report to councillors says: “Due to the cost of repairs this lift will remain closed for the foreseeable future .”
Another report will be made for councillors to consider a decision regarding the future for the lifts.
Labour councillors in Ramsgate’s East Cliff ward say they fear the lift will not reopen this side of 2023.
Ward councillors Steve Albon, Helen Crittenden and Corinna Huxley believe the council – led by a Conservative minority administration since June this year – will not prioritise the spend needed to get the lift working. Money already spent on essential repairs to the listed structure came from an insurance claim, following the theft of lead from the roof.
The Labour trio said: “It’s clear that there is a view within the council that the Ramsgate lift is not important enough to warrant further spending. We fundamentally disagree. It is a vital link between the seafront and the East Cliff promenade, especially for those with disabilities or who struggle with steps.”
The ward councillors say the former Labour administration had been committed to reopening both lifts but fear that the Ramsgate one will now not be considered by the new administration. The lifts were originally announced as closed under the Labour administration.
They added: “We’re now promised yet another cabinet report on the subject on an unspecified future date, which will be the third this year, on top of a debate at council, but the survey work for Ramsgate has now been done. There is no need for further delay in making a decision. We will continue to press for the lift to be reopened, even if it takes until after the 2023 elections.”
Portfolio holder Cllr Reece Pugh has been contacted for a response.
The issue will be discussed during the Cabinet meeting on August 31, starting at 7pm.