Campaigners latest protest over removal of benches from Bramley Shopping Centre

The latest protest has been staged at Bramley Shopping centre as campaigners continue to try and get all the benches which were removed by the centre's new owners reinstalled.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 4:45 am
The latest protest has been staged at Bramley Shopping centre as campaigners continue to try and get all benches which were removed by the centre's new owners reinstalled. Photos by Philip McConnell.

Community campaign group 'A Place to Sit' said more than 1,100 people have joined their group, which is calling on the LCP Group to replace public seating.

Campaigners staged their latest protest on Saturday September 11 over the issue.

LCP Group has proposed to put eight benches back, but campaigners are calling for all 22 seats that were taken out to be reinstalled so that there are places for elderly shoppers and people with health or mobility issues to sit and rest outside shops.

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The latest protest has been staged at Bramley Shopping centre as campaigners continue to try and get all benches which were removed by the centre's new owners reinstalled. Photos by Philip McConnell.

The seats were removed in June and campaigners have recently been staging weekly hour-long protests on Saturday mornings.

A Place to Sit spokesperson said: "We're happy LCP is proposing to put some of the benches back, but we hope they will be community-led on this and recognise that the proposal needs adjusting.

"We're the community, we're the people that make the centre profitable and we know that this proposal won't work.

"It stops some disabled and older people from using essential shops like pharmacies.

"LCP's proposal does not enable people to be mobile and independent because it has not been produced by talking to people who have mobility and health issues.

"We're not asking for much - just that LCP Group honours the Equalities Act 2010 and puts benches back where people need them which is throughout the centre.

"We want to support good businesses by showing up to shop.

"A little kindness goes a long way, so we urge LCP Group to listen to the Bramley community on this."

The company announced that it would reinstall eight of the benches after a backlash from shoppers, and consultations with local MP Rachel Reeves (Lab, Leeds West) and Bramley and Stanningley councillors, Kevin Ritchie, Caroline Gruen and Julie Heselwood,

Four benches will be put in place near Poundstretcher and four close to the taxi rank near Tesco.

Tenants have also been offered the opportunity to have a licence to extend their premises and provide outdoor seating.

However, the A Place to Sit campaign group, made up of 900 Bramley residents, has criticised the decision, stating that it is “not enough”.

A spokesman for LCP said: "Since we took over the management of Bramley Shopping Centre earlier this year, we have focused our efforts on how we can improve the public realm to make it a modern and attractive community-led shopping facility.

"When we removed the benches, we said from the outset we were looking at what would best suit the needs of the centre and our surveyors conducted on-site surveys to see where benches would be best located to ensure health and safety needs are met. It is important to note that these are property surveys and not questionnaire surveys to garner people’s opinions.

"We have spent the past few months monitoring the situation, as well as meeting with our tenants and local councillors. We have also taken on board comments made by members of the public.

"Now this phase has concluded, the Board has agreed the best locations for eight benches: four at either end of the scheme, close to taxi and disabled parking bays.

"In addition, we have given our tenants the option to extend their premises by applying for a licence for outside seating. We understand this is being considered by a small number.

"We take our responsibilities as a landlord extremely seriously and that includes abiding by all the appropriate laws.

"We also pride ourselves on our pro-active approach and are working closely with all tenants to ensure it is a modern and attractive community-led shopping facility that attracts quality occupiers."