Pensioner’s blast in centre seating row

The Hardshaw Centre
The Hardshaw Centre

A PENSIONER says the decision by bosses of a shopping centre to reinstate some seating does not go far enough.

The Hardshaw Centre recently put some plastic seating outside the former TJ Hughes site after previously removing benches from the arcade.

The decision provoked a huge backlash from elderly and disabled shoppers and led to a u-turn from centre bosses.

However, Haydock resident Eric Guest says the new seating is not an adequate replacement for the old benches and criticised the Hardshaw Centre owners.

Mr Guest said: “We should have the benches back. It used to be a place for the older people of St Helens and generations have met there. There even used to be a water feature.

“It was somewhere for older people to rest between shopping and our fathers and grandfathers used to meet there when they had retired from work. They would sit down and chat and do a bit of shopping, and it was also handy for people with children to sit for a few minutes.

“A few plastic seats is not the answer, it seems like a tuppence-ha’penny compromise. What we want is the forms back as they were and our Hardshaw Centre back.

“To me it feels like it has destroyed part of the old heritage of St Helens and since they’ve taken the benches out we’ve decided not to do our shopping there. I think a lot of pensioners feel the same.”

London and Cambridge Properties originally claimed the seats were removed as expert retail research suggested shoppers preferred wide open spaces in arcades, but have now put the plastic seats in after the St Helens Reporter highlighted the protests.

Rob Heald, asset manager of the company, said: “We have put some seating in areas for people to rest and recuperate.

“We had people ringing up saying we just need somewhere to rest so we took the decision.”

However, he insisted the company remained committed to wide open mall areas.