Stairway to Floor Seven


The crown jewels. The Prime Minister. Megan Fox’s phone number. Three things that are eminently worthy of guarding with all due diligence, and protecting from the masses at all costs. My daughter’s home-made pasta jewellery. My phone number. The stairs at the Town Hall. Three other things which should not have any need to be guarded by a big burly security operative for any reason whatsoever. Guess which one we just discovered is…

Yep, you’ve guessed it, the Town Hall is officially stair-less. After a nice lunch and good conversation, my co-author and I decided to continue our strange love affair with the stairs by using them to return to our desks. We had walked up on the way to the canteen on the ninth floor from the fourth, both trying to keep talking all the way without appearing to get out of breath at any stage (thus proving our manliness). What could possibly go wrong with our plans to complete the round trip with a similar but downwardly oriented route?

Imagine then our shock when, upon turning what we thought was just another corner, we came across a security guard sitting on the steps. Wondering whether he was in the middle of a cardiac event (we don’t have the fittest or most svelte of security staff at the Town Hall) we inquired as to his health. The response when it came was from an entirely different angle. As of today, we and all others in the building are no longer allowed to use the stairs. He let us go down the single floor to our destination just this once as a favour, stopping just short of asking for a bribe in the process (alright, I made that last bit up – it wasn’t a bribe he was after, just our unending gratitude for his general benevolence).

In the past this no-stairs policy has been the case in theory rather than in practice. The stairs were officially for emergency use only, with lifts connecting the floors for normal conveyance related duties. However, some people for health or speed reasons continued to use the stairs, and a blind eye was turned to this by all concerned. When your meeting was just a floor or two up or down it made perfect sense to use the quickest route, and a four minute wait for the lift just didn’t add up.

This situation was exacerbated (yes, I do like that word) further with the introduction of ‘new and improved’ lifts (although how something can be both new and improved at the same time is still beyond me), lifts which require you to tell it the floor you want to go to before you even get in it and which tell you which silver box to use. This incredibly over-complex system means you are regularly left for ten minutes waiting for a lift to be assigned whilst trying to get between floors, hence more and more people taking the healthy option and using the stairs.

Alas, this is to be no more as the powers that be have decreed that it is too dangerous to do this on a regular basis. There must be a danger of people forgetting that when you go downstairs the floor tends to get a bit further away at regular intervals so you have to bend your knees and be a bit more careful than when you are on the ballroom floor. That, or perhaps they are waiting to install some communal Stenna style apparatus in a move reminiscent of something from Wall.E, meaning that we can slide about the same floor in our £900 wheelie chairs, go up and down in lifts or transfer to stair platforms to save the wear and tear on our little leggy weggys.

I for one will now be going home to reassess the potentially damaging situation my house currently presents, and will be putting some more signage and a dozen handrails up to stop my wife and kids from life changing injury when going to use the bathroom. In fact, I might just get a new lift installed, which will have the added joy of perhaps swallowing me whole and refusing to disgorge me the next time the in-laws come round to visit.

Hey, there might be something to this after all…

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6 Comments on “Stairway to Floor Seven”

  1. Localgovaswell Says:

    Believe it or not the fact that I blogged on this yesterday and we nearly got arrested for walking on the stairs today is a total coincidence!

    Maybe the powers that be are reading it for inspiration!

  2. contractingatthetownhall Says:

    As an addendum, this morning only two of the lifts were working in the Eastern end of the building. Which a security guard was telling people as they entered the building in the morning.

    I overheard a conversation in the lift later that morning, that they’d been directly asked if they were going to stop policiing the stairs today since the lifts were not working.

    Yes, they are.

    It’s an utterly crazy situation where staff are not allowed to use stairs and hence save time, electricty and perhaps stay a little healthier. At least someone possibly understands exactly how preposterous it is.

    Unfortunately that’s not the landlord

  3. localgov Says:

    I’d forgotten about this post, but laughed aloud when re-reading it! I’ve since moved buildings and the regime is slightly different here, so an update will have to be delivered anon…


  4. [...] about council run walking schemes, the attempts of a council to ban their staff from using the stairs, inappropriate use of the ‘reply all’ button, internal fights over dress codes and what [...]


  5. [...] made us smile enough to continue, so before too long we had added to it.  When we found out that we weren’t allowed to walk up the stairs we’ll admit to double taking, and when Christmas time rolled around we explored some of the [...]


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