‘Stand up for a place to sit down’: Bramley bench campaigners tell council

Campaigners have urged Leeds City Council to “stand up for a place to sit down”, in a row over the removal of town centre seating.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 4:45 am

Residents in Bramley were left furious after 22 benches at the local shopping centre were suddenly stripped away in June by its new owners, LCP.

LCP said the move was made in the best interests of shoppers and that the benches had been an “obstruction”.

But more than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for all the seats to be restored.

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A sit-in protest has been held every Saturday since the benches were removed from Bramley Shopping Centre.

Presenting the petition at a city council meeting on Wednesday, Jo Herbert said the impact on the community had been “nothing short of devastating”.

She told councillors: “Many of those who walk and use public transport in Bramley are disabled, in ill health or have mobility issues, are older or who have long Covid.

“Since the benches were removed some people cannot use their local shops.

“The town centre was the heart of the area, where our communities came together, where older and younger people mixed. We all belonged there.

“Now, unless you can afford a coffee and go and sit in Costa, no-one belongs there.”

Ms Herbert said that eight of the benches had been reinstated last month following “significant pressure”, but that three of them were unusable and unsafe.

Bramley’s three local councillors, Kevin Ritchie, Caroline Gruen and Julie Heselwood, have been supportive of campaigners’ efforts to get all the seats restored.

Ms Herbert told the meeting that the council had told LCP their actions were in breach of planning rules.

She added that the current situation was “unacceptable” and that shoppers needed all 22 benches back in place.

She told the council: “Show us you’re serious about Leeds being the best city to grow old in.

“Stand up for citizens who are excluded from Leeds life because of access issue

“Stand up for a place to sit down.”