Opinion with Christine Tongue; Will more sewage in the sea result in a working lift?

A wheelie steep descent

Having dodgy legs all my life means I fall over a lot and have recently stopped being annoyed when people rush to pick me up. Flailing in a puddle on a muddy pavement is not nice no matter how independent you’d like to appear to be. I’m training myself not to swear loudly and to show appropriate gratitude.

It’s given me a unique way of judging politicians based on whether I think they would pick me up if I fell over.

Locally, councillor Aram Rawf is a trained first aider and has picked me up professionally at least three times. There’s a real knack to not hurting your disabled person when you help them. Hauling on one arm and expecting their legs to work like yours is always wrong. Offering your hand is useless. Ask them what’s best! Getting behind with your hands under their arms and just lifting them to their feet is often good  — depending on your strength and their weight. A golden rule is first do no harm. Get help if it’s beyond you.

But getting back to thoughtful politicians. My new test in Broadstairs is whether they are ready to go around with wheel dependent constituents and listen to our problems. Aram Rawf has lobbied with Access Thanet for workable lifts for years, but I recently invited all of Broadstairs town councillors to come and see our streets from a wheelie view.

The only one to take me up so far is  Green councillor Mike Garner, who patiently followed me on my scooter down to Broadstairs harbour and saw me struggle with broken dropped kerbs, potholes and unexpected steps. Once there I pointed out the lovely wooden walkway on the beach that ends in deep sand or a flight of steps, and when the lift is shut is absolutely useless to wheelies.

He listened while Access Thanet wheelchair users pleaded for the lift to be open all year. This would give us the chance to get to all the main Broadstairs bays, two miles of being next to the sea on a relatively safe wide sea wall. And without risking our necks on the precipitous slopes someone built with cars in mind rather than wobbly pedestrians, wheelchairs and push chairs.

I dragged him to the harbour toilets and pointed out the pains of using the “accessible” toilet  —locked so you need a special key. Try getting out of your wheels, balancing on your sticks to unlock a door and then trying to get inside with no one to hold the door etc. And many wheel chair users can’t walk at all. We need to be able to do things you able people can do, without having to ask for help.

Mike took notes and two day later in the main council meeting on the budget for next year voted for proper funding of the Thanet lifts. Unfortunately the council majority didn’t agree. The lifts are to be funded out of the money Southern Water gave the council in compensation for all the sewage spills last year. But it’s not enough.

I couldn’t see a connection. Can you?

I hope it doesn’t mean we have to wish for more sewage in the sea so our lifts can be funded properly.

I’m still waiting to hear from other councillors. Please get in touch. I’m not going anywhere.

Christine Tongue is a Broadstairs resident and member of disability campaign group Access Thanet


    • I absolutely agree with Christine. It is disgraceful that the TDC has refused to fund the fixing of the lift out of the regular budget. Shame on you, members of the TDC! Can’t you see that it could be you or one of your loved ones who would be able to enjoy it, if the lift were fixed? Have you got any understanding of the rights of disabled citizens to access?

    • Goodness what an empty person you must be, cant think of anything constructive to say, hide behind ‘oh no’ cowardly response to an very important problem

    • Are you a mobile individual who has full use of all your limbs? If so pls don’t make snide nasty innuendos that ridicules those with Mobilty issues & rely on these resources to give freedom & enjoyment of what you take for granted!

    • Hope you are never disabled and require a lift. If you ever do, I don’t think you would appreciate someone snoozing about your basic access requirements. How utterly rude.

  1. I am fortunate to be mobile and not in the difficult position this lovely lady is. However having had an elderly disabled mother in law with us for outings (she sadly is no longer with us) made us so much more aware of the obstacles folks in wheelchairs etc face. Good that one councillor showed interest, I hope others will do so also. Best wishes Christine

  2. TDC is there to provide services to EVERYONE. Beaches the lifts access are easily accessed by those with limited access at other locations. The lifts are old, and well past their sell by date.

    Perhaps have private enterprise revive the inclined lifts further along the bay, and charge users to use it, as used to happen several decades ago, at lest that would have somekind of historical interest.

    • Why should people with mobility problems be charged for using a lift? This would be discrimination, having to pay to access the beaches, whereas able bodied people are able to walk up and down the slopes, free of charge.

      • Because it costs money to operate Phil. Why shouldn’t they be charged alongside everyone else?

        They don;t have to pay to access the beaches, the beaches are perfectly accessible today, as they have been the entire time the lifts have or haven’t worked.

        • Wise Merlin

          Perhaps my comment was not worded very well.

          What I was trying to say is; it was assuming that only people with mobility problems would use the lift, and able bodied people would be able to walk up and down the steps and slopes. Therefore, why should they have to pay for it, that would be discrimination.

          However, if the lift was used by all, then I accept your comment, that all should pay.

          • To be honest, once again it shows the incompetence and poor accounting skills of TDC, in not being able to have enough resources to pay for the lifts, yet they waste so much money, on inappropriate planning and policies.

            If you compare the clowns at TDC to Greenwich, they operate two lifts at the ends of the foot tunnel 365 days per year, yet don’t find the need to charge.

          • If the able bodied choose to not use the lift, that is a matter for them, it’s available to them, as it is to the disabled Phil. That doesn’t alter the fact that the beach is available and accessible to the disabled and always has been, and everyone using the lift should pay for it.

            The lifts are many decades old as is the old inclined lift, and have past their self by date in the same way that the inclined lift did.

            The lifts in Greenwich for the foot tunnel are of course TOTALLY different as they have a massively higher footfall, and without them, the tunnel would not be accessible to the disabled, completely different to the beaches of Ramsgate and Broadstairs.

    • Wise Merli

      You are a pathetic, incompetent idiot, and show how little you understand with your other post, that doesn’t have a reply tag.

      How does a higher football at Greenwich tunnel make any difference, when it’s free of charge.

      The beach is not available to all, as you state in your other post, I can no longer access the beach without a lift, no doubt there are many other who have the same difficulty. Does that make it accessible to all?

      Don’t go telling other people what they can and can’t do, when you clearly have no idea.

      Every village has one, you have obviously got lost from yours.

  3. Best Wishes to Christine, as she struggles with Thanet’s challenging environment and its even more challenging politicians.
    As someone relatively newly disabled, I suffered a fall while out at work in November 2018 and have been relient on crutches to mobilise, I am still learning to live with my disability, what is disappointing is that the majority of councillors on TDC let disabled people down by in effect denying us access to some of the beautiful beaches when they choose not to maintain the lifts that are our only means of access.
    This failure in my opinion is discriminatory against disabled people as it denies us access that able bodied people can take for granted, as I did before my fall in 2018. There is legislation in place to ensure disabled people are afforded access, but I do not have the resources to take the council to court and I know the majority of councillors on TDC do not give a damn about the concerns of disabled people, if they did they would have voted differently in the council chamber.

  4. another message full of the joys of spring !!!!! war in europe is on the horizon as well. just to add a bit more happiness to it

  5. So sick of hearing about this lift.

    It’s not like the beach cannot be accessed, just not accessed the way you want.

    This is a waste of money. Use the slope!!!

    • The slopes are too steep for most wheelies. Please come round with us to understand the problems properly. Or read my article again.

  6. To be fair Christine, your reputation preceeds you! So our hard-working Tory cllrs and MPs are unlikely to get involved, no more than a Green cllr would with me. Sir Roger Gale has campaigned on behalf of the disabled many times though.

  7. It’s strange how time affects us all back in the sixties my sister and me used to run down the stairs to see if we could get to bottom of the Broadstairs lift before mum did with my brother and pushchair nowadays it’s full circle I can only get two the beach via the lift because I’m in the push only wheelchair as I won’t ask anyone to try pushing me up the road which is almost mountain like worse than walking mount snowdon. There’s plenty of people who would be interested in using the lift other than disabled people, maybe not like the sixties and seventies when mum’s were queuing up to use it, and to be honest most people would be OK with paying a nominal fee if said money was used towards the upkeep of the lift/lifts each of them, I agree with Wise Merlin that the Woolwich lifts are totally different as footfall has always been a great many especially during rush hour I remember only to well walking upstairs when lifts were out of action, Christine’s reputation does go before her in her fight for the rights of everyone to be able to enjoy and use the beaches and other amenities able and disabled people, best wishes Christine.

    • To clarify, I very much support Christine’s campaign for disability access. I’m fortunate in that (at 59) I can still run up and down stairs, but there WILL come a time when I’m less able bodied, and would still want to visit the places I do now. Those who believe that these lifts aren’t needed are very selfish indeed. If we had lifts and working toilets a 100 years ago, then why on earth should we go backwards and not have them now?

  8. People who think we should pay for the lifts individually perhaps should reflect on the idea that we DO pay for all our public facilties through our various taxes. Collectively we subsidise all kinds of services we dont necessarily use ourselves. I don’t have kids but my taxes pay for yours to go to school. So why not publicly pay for important services that help the most vulnerable in our communities?

  9. *** BREAKING NEWS ***
    *The lift is fixed & is operational for 12 weeks of summer*
    Do we need it in the winter too? Maybe for the seals to come up to the seafront restaurants & high street to do a bit of shopping?

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