I have been consistent over time that local councillors CAN make a real difference. If they are active in the community, on the front foot and willing to give voice to their constituents, then they can drive change.
So take a bow Councillors Kevin Ritchie, Caroline Gruen and Jools Heselwood of Bramley for taking up the cudgels with new shopping centre managers LCP.
Almost unbelievably, sweeping into town, not taking the time to even introduce themselves; instead these people made their first action to unilaterally remove all the 22 or so benches, carefully positioned around the centre, to provide much-needed seating facilities for shoppers.
You could not make it up! There was no discussion, no consultation and not even a word of warning.
Instead, in came the diggers and – in what residents saw as an act of vandalism – all signs of any seating were dug up and removed.
Uproar predictably followed and the three elected councillors, along with MP Rachel Reeves, went in to battle with the unknown new managers, who act on behalf of the new landlord Sheet Anchor.
Was it a mistake? No! Did they not realise that so many elderly and vulnerable shoppers and those with mobility difficulties, have a quick rest or a chat over a cuppa whilst putting heavy bags down before moving on to other shops in the centre.
Local residents were seriously annoyed and have been staging weekly Saturday morning sit ins, bringing their own chairs! Some two dozen turned up in the rain last week. That shows the strong feeling.
And Kevin, Caroline and Jools are at trying to talk with the new representatives and putting the case for new benches to be strategically placed to provide comfort for local residents. I wish them the best of luck.
I hope local media will continue to cover the story and the sit ins. In politics we say: when you are in a hole, stop digging! Let common sense prevail.
Bramley Centre was built over 50 years ago and it’s looked old and tired for many years. The new owners LCP, should be looking at ways of enticing new customers or at least retaining their existing customers, rather than giving folk yet another reason for not shopping there. Why there was no apparent consultation or advance warning of the benches’ removal does not give shoppers much confidence that LCP are necessarily acting in their best interests. Yes, retailers can ask LCP for permission to put seats (and presumably tables) in front of their shops but from LCP’s point of view, surely this would create just as much of a “pathway obstruction” as the benches they’ve had removed? It just doesn’t make sense.