The company behind the removal of more than 20 public benches at Bramley Shopping Centre say they have “taken on board comments made by members of the public”.
The comment comes after more than 60 Bramley residents took part in their biggest sit-in yet at Bramley Shopping Centre on Saturday to protest against the removal of shoppers’ benches.
LCP Group, which manages the centre on behalf of new landlord Sheet Anchor, last week week agreed to reinstate EIGHT public benches following uproar after all 22 benches were removed in June. But residents are continuing their weekly protests, saying the move is not enough.
A spokesman for LCP has today responded to the protests, saying:
“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 surveyor] conducted on-site surveys to see where benches would be best located to ensure health and safety needs are met.
“We have spent the past few months monitoring the situation, as well as meeting with tenants and local councillors. We have also taken on board comments made by members of the public.
“Now this phase has concluded, we have agreed the best locations for eight benches. 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.”
Campaigners from the 900-strong A Place to Sit group say LCP’s measures are not enough and are calling for all the seats to be reinstated.
A spokesperson for the campaign said on Saturday:
“We don’t understand what LCP Group has against older people with mobility problems and disabled people, children and parents.
“It defies logic, and their proposal to put a handful of 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.
“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.”
The community campaign has also seen more than 1,000 people sign an online petition.
LCP originally removed the benches, saying they were an obstruction.
A spokeswoman for LCP last week confirmed their intention to reinstate eight of the benches following consultations with tenants and Leeds City Council, with four benches by Poundstretcher and four close to the taxi rank near Tesco.
From my most recent experience on Bramley Centre, it is extremely noticeable that, in the absence of any benches, people are having to resort to any flat surface on the Centre whatsoever, for their seating requirements. This may consist of some very low wall areas outside the likes of Poundstretcher, Boots and Jack Fultons and a higher small wall area near the fish shop. Also the steps at the entrance to the Cashino amusement arcade. On my way home, I also spoke to a lady who was having a breather on the wall outside Trinity Church, before she could even think of venturing on to the Centre, 30 yards away.
Surely these examples convey their own message – seating is a necessary and vital amenity for the local community. If there is a problem with anti-social behaviour by youths outside of normal shopping hours, surely that should be the responsibility of the local police, the retailers who open late, and, of course, the landlord, who should be prepared to pay for any extra security entailed. This could be paid for out of the additional revenue streams they are receiving from increased rentals, parking, and the charges for space in front of units that they apparently intend to charge.
Sounds like the benches were in the way and would block the path. The path for them to rent outside space to the shops and earn more rental income.?