Residents have complained that Tesco Extra’s decision to close the Carlisle Street entrance puts customers at risk, especially the elderly, disabled, and parents with young children.
Residents have petitioned the closure claiming it favours drivers over public transport users and pedestrians while putting customers at risk of road accidents. They say there are no signs informing pedestrians of the alternative pedestrian entrance except for the sign ‘access via lower car park’ which has resulted in people taking the ‘unsafe’ mid-level car park ramp to avoid the 600m walk to the Savile Street pedestrian entrance or the 800m walk to the lower car park ramp.
Concerns have also been raised that if the lift is out of order at the Savile Street entrance customers who cannot use the stairs can only access by the car park ramps.
Craig Holmes, 41, from Pitsmoor said: “I’ve lived in this area all my life and it’s annoying for me having to walk the extra distance as I don’t drive.”
Tesco has recently fitted barriers on the mid-level car park ramp to make the route more accessible for customers, but for many locals this is not enough.
Huw Thomas, 58, a parish priest and long term resident of Pitsmoor has advocated online for the reopening of the entrance. He said: “People have got in touch with me saying they have difficulties with wheelchairs and pushchairs because of the one way flow, for blind people it is a problem as well.”
Burngreave residents have also sent a letter to the council asking them to arrange a meeting with the Tesco.
A resident who wishes to remain anonymous said: “The community feels totally disregarded. The feedback we have gotten is that Tesco does not care about customer safety. As well as a complete disregard for community service.
“The local ward councillors are sadly very quiet. No response even after a letter sent to all three Burngreave Ward elected Labour Councillors”.
Tesco have stated that they have no plans to reopen the entrance and that the barriers were fitted to create a safer walkway as they figure out a more permanent solution.
A spokesperson for Tesco said: “We took the decision to close the Spital Hill entrance to our Sheffield Extra store in the interest of colleague and customer safety after instances of anti-social behaviour.
“We have other accessible entrances for customers to use and believe keeping this entrance closed makes shopping with us safer.”
Tesco told one complainant that there were more than 2,500 incidents of anti-social behaviour at the store in the current financial year, but these had reduced by a third since the entrance was closed.
Residents have suggested alternative solutions such as more CCTV, employing a security guard, or putting a traffic marshal on the ramp.
Mr Thomas said: “Many local shops have experienced anti-social behaviour and they don’t close up shop.”
He added: “Why not open the entrance for a few hours a day, let’s give it a go.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said: ‘‘Tesco has provided problematical in the past. There were some shrubs and bushes that were used by dealers to secrete drugs at one point and these have had to be cut back. The local police team have regular patrol in the area but are obviously not going to be present every hour of the day.
“The store must take what action it deems appropriate but if it needs some police help they should talk to the neighbourhood team, perhaps with a view to having the DOCO (Designing Out Crime Officer) call.”
The council have been contacted for a comment but have not yet responded.