Faulty lifts have left the Civic Suite at the Lewisham Council central offices in Catford inaccessible for disabled visitors for at least a month.
Visitors were barred from using the lifts after one began stalling between floors in multiple incidents. A security guard, who declined to be named, said that in some cases people had been trapped for an hour.
The other lift, installed in 1970, has also broken down and cannot be repaired as many of its replacement parts are now obsolete.
This disruption has prevented disabled visitors unable to use the stairs from accessing the two upper floors of the Civic Suite. There are no meeting rooms on the ground floor.
Councillor Pauline Morrison for Crofton Park, who chairs the Safer Stronger Communities Select Committee, has called the disruption “a disgrace” and pointed out the need for the council “to set an example” to the rest of the community.
Councillor Morrison, who is disabled, was forced to use the faulty lift to attend an Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on October 31, which was located on the first floor.
A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “Visitors who need to get to the first or second floors were directed to use the lifts in the Old Town Hall next door, which gives access via linked corridors to the upper floors of the Civic Suite. Reception staff are available to advise and assist upon request.
“We are in the process of replacing [the older lift] and work is expected to be completed in late December. The other lift has also developed a number of on-going faults but is expected to be back in operation in early December.”
The Civic Suite is an important venue, hosting more than half of the meetings listed on the council calendar in October, including the Mayor and Cabinet meetings.
On the council’s website, the Civic Suite is described as having “disabled access to all rooms” and has a comprehensive listing on DisabledGo.com, a database of accessible locations.
Repair work is currently being conducted by Temple Lifts, the lift maintenance service provider retained by the council. When contacted, Temple Lifts said the last evaluation was conducted on October 18 and lifts were assessed to be “satisfactory” and left in service.