Lost benches cause concerns for elderly

The only bench left near Sainsbury's, after three were removed from the foyer. (1301151AM1)
The only bench left near Sainsbury's, after three were removed from the foyer. (1301151AM1)

Elderly customers of a Ripon supermarket are being left standing and laden with shopping bags after benches were removed from its foyer.

Customers of Sainsbury’s, on Market Place, have nowhere to sit when they have finished their shopping after three waiting benches were discarded by management.

Loyal Sainsbury’s customer Margaret Bailey, 80, told the Gazette: “All of us older people rely on those benches. They are truly missed.

“I asked some staff members in the café why they had been moved and I was told it was because youths were congregating around them, swearing and shouting and causing trouble.”

Mrs Bailey did not want to be pictured in the Gazette for fear of reprisals from young people who gather at the store.

She said some of her friends have felt forced to go elsewhere to do their weekly shop.

“Older people need somewhere to sit when they have finished their shopping and it’s not fair that the majority suffer because of the minority,” she said.

“One of my friends has started shopping in Booths now instead of Sainsbury’s because of what’s happened.”

Sainsburys originally whittled down the foyer benches from three to two, but have now scrapped them completely.

The only bench near the store is located at the back, but Mrs Bailey said it often gets over-crowded, especially on market days.

“I’m lucky because I have a pusher which I can sit on in the foyer when I have finished my shopping,” she said.

“The bench outside is at the back and is always occupied, so it is no use to me. On a Thursday when the market is on and everyone travels from the villages, it’s impossible to get a seat. And what are we supposed to do in the rain?”

A Sainsburys spokesman said: “We reluctantly took the decision to remove the benches at the market end of our store as we had complaints that some of the people congregating there were using threatening behaviour and bad language and upsetting customers. We have discussed the issue with the police and we will review the decision regularly in the hope that we can replace the benches at some time in the future.”