Monday, December 6, 2021
HomeNewsBramley flash mob calls for return of shopping centre seats

Bramley flash mob calls for return of shopping centre seats

Words: Roland Cross & John Baron

Images: Simon Cullingworth

“We want our seating back!” that was the message from a friendly ‘flash mob’ of Bramley residents who brought their own seats to Bramley Shopping Centre this morning.

The residents were making their point after at least 16 public benches were stripped from the centre by its new owners LCP Properties two weeks ago, sparking widespread concern in the community.

The move, which LCP said was to reduce congestion on the footpaths, saw all benches at the centre removed.

Bramley resident Roger Cliff joined others at Bramley Shopping Centre. Photo: Simon Cullingworth

Around 15 people staged the friendly socially distanced event by bringing portable chairs, buying drinks and food and sitting in the spaces where the benches had been. They argue the decision has deprived shoppers and many others of the chance to rest and socialise. 

Roger Cliff, a well-known figure in the community and secretary of Bramley History Society, said:

“One word. Crazy. Lots of older people used the benches, Some people are lonely and the benches offered a place to sit down and get chatting.

“Our local councillors Julie Heselwood, Kevin Ritchie and Caroline Gruen and Rachel Reeves MP are very supportive of reinstating benches and the centre management should listen.”

Thumbs up from

Sandra Ray, 63, of Rodley, has breathing problems

“It’s disgraceful. If I am coming down here and I have an asthma attack I have nowhere to sit and it puts me off coming. They should think about the community and people who shop here.”

bramley shopping centre seats protest
Some of the protesters brought their own seats to Bramley Shopping Centre. Photo: Simon Cullingworth

A manager at one of the shops said trade had been impacted since the seats had been removed. She said: “It has been like a different centre this past week, it’s been noticeably quieter. People have missed the benches, particularly the older ones. They come for a rest, a chat and a shop. This is the centre of a community, not just a shopping parade.”

Bramley resident Tamsin Constable had come to the centre to raise awareness of the need for seating at one of the largest retail hubs in West Leeds. Tamsin said:

“The benches offered a mobility aid for everyone. Benches enable people to access Bramley Shopping Centre and without them some are excluded because they need a place to rest before carrying heavy bags of shopping home.”

Mother and son Jane and Tom Armstrong brought their seats for the event. Photo: Simon Cullingworth

Bramley local Jane Armstrong also felt strongly about the issue. She added:

“I think its mean-spirited of the owners because Bramley Shopping Centre is a community centre. It’s here to serve the community and lots of people used and enjoyed the benches when they were here. For some people, sitting down and chatting to neighbours was the only time they get to socialise with people during lockdown.”

Her son Tom Armstrong, who also lives in Bramley, felt the same way. He added:

“This is the centre of our community. The removal of benches means we are not enabling older people and people with mobility issues to come here. They should be reinstated.”

Shoppers Brenda Roberts and her husband Alwyn were pleased to support the event. Brenda said:

“My husband has dementia and is 83. He used to sit on the benches whilst I did the shopping in Tescos. Now, I can’t browse whilst shopping and I’m very annoyed that this will stop people coming to Bramley Shopping Centre.”

The purpose of the event is to try to engage with the management to persuade them to review the decision. One of the organisers told WLD:

“We come to wish the management well and invite them to come and talk to our brilliant community, get to know us and understand why the benches matter. We would welcome them  and would welcome a conversation. We’ll be here every Saturday morning at 10am – 11am. If anyone wants to join us, just bring a chair.”

John Whiteley, 75, has lived in Bramley for more than 50 years. He said there is a lot of older people in Bramley and added: “They need the seating and it needs to be put back, it’s putting people off coming.”

LCP, which manages Bramley Shopping Centre, told WLD two weeks ago that the benches had bee removed because they were causing an obstruction on the pathways and added:

“Any decisions made are done so with the best interests of our tenants and shoppers and we will consider if new outdoor seating arrangements can be made once we’ve had chance to assess the impact of the change.

“However, there is external seating outside Costa Coffee and retailers can request the same by applying to the landlord for its consideration.” 

WLD will be contacting LCP for further comment.

LCP bought Bramley Shopping Centre on behalf of Sheet Anchor Investments, one of the LCP Group of managed companies. They have acquired £80m of shopping centres in recent months, including Trafford, Daventry, Sheffield and Kent.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t live in Bramley, but my son does and I regularly come to stay with him. I use the Bramley centre while I’m there and have never found the benches to be an obstruction. Every High Street and shopping centre I’ve visited in England or Scotland have benches or seating areas among the shops. They encourage people to stay longer. It’s a stupid and short-sighted decision to remove these benches in Bramley. I’m sure it seems a much less welcoming place for everyone without them.

  2. I don’t think the chairs/benches should be removed as they are used by a variety of people for different reasons.
    However, with the coffee bars opening up again it’s difficult to move around on my mobility scooter where people are outside on the tables and chairs and the wall, smoking eating and drinking.
    Again I have no objections to people socialising but there should be designated areas for smokers so that they don’t interfere with other people going about their business.

  3. I’m absolutely disgusted at the removal of the benches. Love sitting down with a Greggs tea and cake and a natter with other shoppers. They were never an obstruction as the space between the shops to the car park are very wide. I have never seen any obstruction or incidents due to having benches there.

  4. Although the seating was a little too close to the parking area ( possibility of reversing into them ) it would have been better to adjust their positions when all the tarmac works were done.

    The single entry / exit point has always been awkward since the centre’s inception. Thought should have been better given for less vehicular queueing I.e. one road in and a different way out instead of upsetting the majority of shoppers by the arbitrary way of removing the seating piecemeal !!

  5. I fully support the residents of Bramley. I shop in Bramely on a regular basis, we chat to people and support local shops. Bramley centre is the hub of the community, seating is an absolute essential in this centre for all sorts of reasons. The act of removing seating by this new company has demonstrated insensitivity, a lack of awareness of local needs and demonstrates discrimination against the elderly and infirmity. A faceless organisation that does not address the real issues of a community.

  6. I’ve lived in Bramley 34 years, never have I found them an obstruction.
    I’ve been a community carer, regularly taking the elderly shopping or doing their shopping.
    When they first put parking restrictions in, it stopped me being able to take more than one client or do more than one clients shopping in 2.5 hours as you were fined.
    Now the benches are removed we can’t assist clients as there is nowhere to rest. The centre is across the road from a sheltered housing complex. One of many in Bramley.
    Thoughtless executives behind a desk have stolen the independence of our elderly community.
    It’s just not worth even going there, we are using alternative businesses.

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