Photos: Philip McConnell
More than 60 Bramley residents took part in their biggest sit-in yet at Bramley Shopping Centre today to protest against the removal of shoppers’ benches.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves joined the sixth weekly sit-in, along with local councillors, and spent time listening to those taking part to understand people’s perspectives. Protesters brought their own fold-up chairs and waved placards.
The protest comes after LCP Group, which manages the centre on behalf of new landlord Sheet Anchor, this week agreed to reinstate EIGHT public benches following uproar after all 22 benches were removed in June.
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.
They are also calling on LCP to share the survey they say they have done and say LCP continues to ignore A Place to Sit group members and block residents’ polite enquiries on Twitter.
A spokesperson for the campaign said:
“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.
“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.”
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 earlier this 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. She said:
“Tenants have also been offered the opportunity to have a licence to extend their premises and provide outdoor seating, should they wish to do so.
“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.
“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.”
More of WLD‘s coverage of this issue can be found here.