Campaigners hold sit-in protest at Bramley Shopping Centre calling for return of removed benches

Campaigners held another sit-in protest at Bramley Shopping Centre amid the removed benches fallout.

Saturday, 7th August 2021, 4:24 pm
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 12:16 pm
Residents and shoppers held a sit-in protest at Bramley Shopping Centre this weekend urging the centre owners to reinstall all of the benches. Photo: Philip McConnell

A total of 61 people, including Local MP Rachel Reeves (Lab, Leeds West) and Bramley and Stanningley councillors, Kevin Ritchie, Caroline Gruen and Julie Heselwood, took their chairs to the shopping centre on Saturday, August 7.

Centre owners LCP removed the benches from the centre in early June, stating at the time that the benches had been an "obstruction" to the pathways.

Shoppers and residents criticised the move, with Ms Reeves and the local councillors also raising the issue with LCP.

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Campaigners took their own chairs to the centre to hold the protest. Photo: Philip McConnell

This week, the company announced that it would reinstall eight of the benches.

However, Bramley campaign group, A Place to Sit, said that eight benches is not enough and said it would continue to hold a friendly protest each weekend until the issue is resolved.

The group also raised concerns about how the lack of benches would impact older people with mobility problems, disabled people and children and parents who need to rest while shopping.

Speaking after the protest, a spokesperson said: "It defies logic, and their proposal to put a few benches back has not taken on board any of the feedback, it's not a solution, it's simply designed to make us go away.

Rachel Reeves (Lab, Leeds West) and Bramely and Stanningley councillors, Kevin Ritchie, Caroline Gruen and Julie Heselwood. Photo: Philip McConnell

"We're not going anywhere.

"We'll be back next Saturday and every week our sit-in will grow until LCP Group proposes a practical solution.

"We urge the national retailers Greggs, Tesco Bramley, Poundstretcher, Boots and Halifax Bank - who are based at the shopping centre to stand up for their customers on this issue, in line with their community values."

Residents were vocal in giving feedback to LCP Group’s proposal.

Lou Leeson, from Bramley, said: “I would like to see benches returned outside the pharmacies, as I feel these are the places people have to ‘hang around’ whilst waiting for their prescriptions.

"Offering to replace some benches at both ends of the centre really isn’t in the spirit of what we’ve asked for.”

Tracy Howard, also from Bramley, said: “Eight just isn’t enough.

"I could not do my shopping at Bramley at the beginning of this week because I have nowhere to sit and rest when I get there.

"I have arthritis in my hips and knees and other health conditions. It’s ridiculous, we want and need all the benches back.”

Announcing the reinstallation of the benches earlier this week, an LCP spokesman said: “As we pointed out a few weeks ago, we were carrying out detailed on-site surveys before making any decisions as to the future-proofing and upgrading of the centre,” said a spokesman.

“I’m pleased to say that following our improvements to the parking provision, we will be installing new benches and aim to have them in situ by the end of September, subject to the shortages currently being experienced across the whole construction industry being resolved.

“As managing agents, we are working hard to make Bramley Shopping Centre more appealing and are actively attracting new occupiers.

"We’re looking forward to announcing new names in the next few weeks.”