A PROMINENT councillor says he has been left unable to attend council meetings after Colchester Town Hall lift broke down.

Gerard Oxford, who is a former Colchester mayor, is currently unable to attend council business at the town hall because, as a wheelchair user, he can only get to certain rooms via a lift.

Although the lift has been temporarily fixed, getting to the upper floors of the building would involve phoning a member of staff to call the lift from the appropriate floor.

Mr Oxford said he believed the lift might not be fully repaired until November meaning he may miss dozens of council meetings over the coming months.

The situation is complicated by the fact Mr Oxford suffers from claustrophobia.

He said: “Once I got stranded mid-floor [in my own house] and the crew had to come all the way from Southampton.

“By the time they got here, I had ripped off a metal door.

“The prospect of getting stuck in that lift is not on my agenda – I need to make sure the lift has passed all its certifications, and I haven’t heard that yet.”

Mr Oxford missed the environment and sustainability panel on Wednesday due to the lift being out of service.

He did not, however, lay any blame on the current leader of the council, David King, who is recovering from contracting Covid-19.

“It’s no fault of the leader of the council because he has been struggling with Covid – obviously he has not been well and is still trying to do [all the work he can].”

And Mr Oxford added the unavailability of the lift could also cause problems for other people who require mobility access to the building for other non-council functions.

He said: “We don’t know how many people in wheelchairs might be attending different events and functions – having a fully usable lift is important for all those aspects because you can’t just assume that people aren’t going to attend in a wheelchair.

A spokesperson for Colchester Council said: “The main Town Hall lift currently provides access to all floors, including those hosting events and meetings.

“Whilst the Town Hall is fully accessible, a remaining fault is affecting one part of the building, which may delay the lift once called.

"Once inside the lift, however, all floors can still be accessed. We are working hard to reduce any inconvenience for visitors and staff and hope to fully repair the lift soon.”