DORCHESTER’S Corn Exchange lift is likely to be replaced – after a series of break downs including an incident where two people were stuck and had to be freed by the fire brigade.

It led to the council being chastised by the women involved – made worse by the fact that when they later turned to talk to councillors the lift was not working and one, a wheelchair user, was unable to get to the meeting.

They said at the time that the authority was wrong to hold its public meetings in the upstairs council chamber which was inaccessible to those with lesser mobility.

A later meeting of the planning committee was subsequently held in the Corn Exchange hall while the lift remained out of action.

“I’m shocked that we’re in the 21st century with 17th century facilities, My daughter is downstairs on her own, she should be upstairs talking to you… if you can’t get people to your meetings, you should change where you meet,” said Gillingham resident Sylvia Hixson Andrews at the time.

She and daughter Chloe, who uses a wheelchair, had travelled to the meeting to explain how they had become stuck in the lift before Christmas.

A former Blandford town councillor and author, she said that the north Dorset town never held meetings in locations where people were unable to access and Dorchester should do the same.

Now town councillors are being told, that following a series of break downs and repairs, the best option is expected to be buying a new lift.

A stair riser lift, only capable of taking one person at a time, has been explored by council staff but rejected because the stairs are not wide enough.

A report to the council’s management committee on Tuesday evening by deputy town clerk Steve Newman says that various problems with the existing lift means that a complete replacement is the best solution.

“Initial discussions have been held with a major lift provider about the possibility of completely replacing the lift. There are ‘off the shelf’ lifts which could be installed within the footprint of the existing lift. Subject to permissions being received, this type of lift would be more reliable,” he said. The committee backed his recommendation and a further report on the cost and design will be brought forward later in the year.