Broken down and out of order lifts are putting people with mobility issues off shopping in the Grosvenor Centre according to the co-chairman of Northampton’s disabled people’s forum.
There are seven lifts in the Grosvenor centre, most of which lead to the borough council owned multi-storey car park adjoining the centre. One is owned by Sainsbury’s and the two glass lifts by Primark are owned by the shopping centre itself.
But in recent weeks the facilities have been either under refurbishment or broken down for various reasons.
A number of people have contacted the Chronicle & Echo to complain.
One reader wrote to say: “In the last two months, I have visited Northampton Grosvenor Centre to shop, on three occasions, and have parked within the centre car park whose lifts exit adjacent to Sainsbury’s.
“On each occasion I have found that only one of the three lifts ever work. This is unacceptable for disabled people and people with pushchairs. Two weeks ago I waited for 10 minutes to get into a lift with my two year son sat in his pushchair.”
The reader added that: “We will not be visiting the town centre until we get more confident that we can access the centre and would travel to Milton Keynes instead.”
Martin De Rosario, 54, of Goldings co-chairs the borough council’s disabled people’s forum and said he had also received a number of complaints about the lifts in recent weeks.
He said: “I was there two or three days ago and the waiting time was awful.
“As you can imagine lining up with your shopping there is often a big queue, and even if you do queue up it doesn’t guarantee that lift.
People that have disabilities aren’t going to be shopping there. It’s a big issue and it’s going to turn people away.”
The Grosvenor Centre says one of the “scenic” glass lifts by Primark was recently subject to vandalism and is currently awaiting repair.
A spokeswoman for centre owner Legal and General said: “Unfortunately, one of the scenic lifts in the centre was recently subject to severe vandalism which has caused a major fault.
“Our lift maintenance company is trying everything they can to return the lift to service as soon as possible. “The remaining lifts and the car park itself are managed and maintained by Northampton Borough Council and are therefore outside of our control.
“We understand the frustration that this issue is causing shoppers particularly with it being such a busy time of year and we are working to resolve it as quickly as possible.”
Northampton Borough Council says the lifts have been out of action as part of recent refurbishments, but expects to have all four of the lifts it owns working properly by early 2016.
A spokesman for the authority said: “We are in the process of refurbishing all NBC owned lifts in the Grosvenor Centre car park and have completed the works on three of our lifts, the final lift will be refurbished commencing in early 2016.”
Last week the council said lift L6, next to Sainsbury’s, reported a fault and had to be shut down, but contractors have since resolved the issue.
Mr De Rosario said the disabled people’s forum will be discussing the issue for disabled access at the Grosvenor Centre when it next meets at the Guildhall on January 21 at 10.30am.