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Broken Lifts in Libraries Can’t Be Fixed Due to Parts Stuck in Europe

Published on: 13 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 14 Dec, 2021

Guildford Library – lifts have been broken for some time Photo Google Street View

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

Surrey County Council says it is trying to get lifts in its libraries fixed but is struggling to get parts from Europe.

Guildford Library’s collection is set over three floors but its lift has been broken for some time, the children, families, lifelong learning and culture select committee heard today (December 13).

Cllr Fiona Davidson

Cllr Fiona Davidson (R4GV, Guildford South-East) said that Guildford Library had had the same problem “for some time”.

“It is really resulting in that we can’t use the building as much as we’d like to,” she said.

And Weybridge Library has a first-floor lecture hall that seats 80 people but cannot be rented out because the lift has been out of action for over a year.

Cllr Rachael Lake (Con, Walton) said it was “a wonderful facility” but did not comply with disability legislation.

The county council’s cabinet committed two weeks ago to investing £34 million to modernise all 52 of Surrey’s libraries, to make sure they meet the changing needs of communities.

The refurbishments are supposed to be self-funded wherever possible.

Weybridge Library Photo Google Street View

Cllr Lake added: “[Weybridge] is a facility that could well be rented out for income. It is totally illogical that someone is telling me that we are encouraging people to rent out facilities for income and my husband was told that he can’t rent it because it has no lift and hasn’t done for over a year.”

Cabinet member for Communities Mark Nuti (Con, Chertsey) said: “We have had great difficulty in getting spare parts and service engineers to work on these lifts, it has been a real issue across the country.

“Most of these lifts are designed in Germany and the rest of Europe and for some reason, parts just aren’t coming through.

“We are looking to get as quick a result as possible because Guildford Library is over three floors and for a lot of our residents are not capable of going up and downstairs.”

He added that staff were very helpful and doing their best to retrieve what library users need in the meantime.

Marie Snelling, executive director of Customer and Communities at Surrey County Council, said there had been a backlog of maintenance on its library buildings, which was being addressed.

She said: “You’re absolutely right, if we want to be able to deliver against the ambition that we have for libraries, we absolutely need the right sorts of buildings that are fit for purpose to do that.

“So I think we’d all agree that it is absolutely not right and really disappointing that that is the case at the moment.

“We must ensure that these issues are picked up more broadly, because otherwise we can’t use these spaces in the flexible income-generating way that we want to.”

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test 2 Responses to Broken Lifts in Libraries Can’t Be Fixed Due to Parts Stuck in Europe

  1. S Callanan Reply

    December 13, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    This made me wonder why the Electric Theatre doesn’t have a lift.

    Does anyone know?

  2. Adam Aaronson Reply

    December 13, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    Some years ago, we lived in a block of flats where there were lift problems and the engineers claimed that they had been unable to source a particular part called an E-prom. Owing to the apparent scarcity of this item, we were told that we would need a whole new control system. The engineers said that their suppliers had run out and hadn’t been able to source any as they were no longer made. I asked the name and part number, Googled it, found a supplier in the US and had it shipped.

    The part cost £180 including delivery, saving us and our fellow residents around £12k for a new system.

    While I’m quite prepared to accept that supply chains have been affected by Brexit and Covid, I wonder whether anybody has done some research on the availability of the relevant parts, outside the lift engineer’s possibly limited orbit of using a regular supplier.

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