Save Our Stones

Campaign to Increase Usability of The Stones River Crossing at Burley-in Wharfedale

Latest News

15 July 2013

Below is John Stubbs reply dated 15 July 2013 to the email below.I am sure he is right that the island would return but this is simply another maintenance issue. The solution to use the island debris to reinforce the north bank is a good one and kills two birds with one stone. The north bank is in a terrible state of repair.

Clearly the WRA are not against the removal (or at least reduction) of the island. It is a matter of money. Save Our Stones has no funding. I have therefore written to the Burley Community Trust and Burley Parish Council, both of whom have access to some funding and suggested they get together and see if the wherewithal can be concocted to do something about the island, in conjunction with the WRA and of course the landowner concerned. There is nothing Save Our Stones can add to this.

It is now up to the village of Burley-in-Wharfedale to at least ensure The Stones are preserved to at least the condition they are today - see the photo on the all pictures page sent by a supporter.

"John

Sorry about ther delay in responding. we have approached the Ea and enquired about removing the island. In their view the way the weir is angled they feel the island would eventually return.
 
We did try a couple of years ago to form a channel down the right bank to try and eleviate the pressure on the left bank and divert the flow. But the gravel returned partly due to the floods and also the idiots who decided that they would dam the channel so they could gain access to our land. 
 
We would like to remove the island and deposit the gravel on the left hand bank which has been badly eroded but without financial help the club could not afford to do this work.
 
Yours
 
John stubbs
Hon sec WRA"
 

14 July 2013

Below is the text of an email I sent to John Stubbs, Secretary on 9 July2013

"John

I write to you in your capacity as Secretary of the West Riding Anglers as I believe you own the bed of the River Wharfe at Burley-in-Wharfedale and are responsible for its upkeep.

You probably know that at long last, Bradford MDC have finally carried out their obligatory maintenance of the stepping stones over the Wharfe at Burley. Things have improved and the crossing is more viable than it was. However, there has been a considerable build up of debris on the south side of the river just feet downstream of The Stones. This is reducing the width of the river, causing the water to be deeper than it would otherwise be and so increasing thew occasions when The Stones are impassable.

The narrowing of the channel must also be increasing the pressure of water through the gap and so increasing erosion of the north bank.

Some of the debris looks like dressed stone (as opposed to boulders). It seems unlikely that the river would be so bountiful as to provide dressed stone so perhaps this has been dumped. Trees/bushes are also taking hold so making the "island" unlikely to ever be washed away by natural means.

I am writing to ask if West Riding Anglers are able to do something to ameliorate the position here, as owners of the river bed.

I am aware that your organisation is against the proposals for a bridge and although I personally support the idea of a bridge, clearly the more viable The Stones are as a crossing, the less there is a case for a bridge. Removing or at least reducing the "island" would help.

What are your thoughts please.

Regards

John"

 

27 June 2013

I am pleased to be able to confirm that The Stones have been repaired and that at times of moderate river flow, the River Wharfe can once again be crossed at Burley-in-Wharfedale. As with all such crossings, and especially because the Wharfe is such a changeable river, crossing will always be irregularly available but The Stones are better than nothing.

The success of this campaign shows that if a Parish Council gets behind a cause worthwhile to a village progress can be made and I would like to thank Burley Parish Council for their support and especially to Jo Griffiths who was Clerk to the Council for the majority of the period of the campaign.

It is now up to villagers and visitors using the crossing to monitor the condition of The Stones and report immediately to the Parish Council if they need future maintenance – as they are bound to do at some point. Please don't let them get into such a state again!

As far as I am concerned, my part is finished but I will leave this website available so that if anyone in the future needs the research information, it is to hand.

There is potentially an issue about removal of debris which has formed a large island by The Stones over the years. This causes water to back-up around The Stones and also must increase the force of flow in the remaining  channel , so increasing erosion of the north bank. Whether anything can be done about this remains to be seen.

21 January 2013

 

Following a campaign by Save our Stones supporters of complaining to the local MP for Burley-in-Wharfedale, Philip Davies, a Nanje Ngoe the Principle Engineer with the Bradford Highway Structures Unit has issued what seems to have become virtually a stock response which has been copied to me. The response says:

"Repairing the Stepping Stones is work we have planned to do for a while. We have already placed an order for the works and replacement stones have been cut. Unfortunately the contractor needs a sustained period of dry weather to carry out the work. As you will appreciate, we cannot force a contractor to deploy workmen on this watercourse if he is not confident that water levels will remain low for a reasonable length of time to allow him to undertake the work in a safe and proper manner.

We are constantly liaising with the contractor and the work remains a priority to be carried out as soon as we get a spell of reasonably dry weather.

I expect the work to be carried out in Spring 2013 weather permitting

Please rest assured that repairing the Stepping Stones is important to us.”

So in something like three years, there has never been even one period of dry weather long enough to carry out the work? And unless any supporter knows otherwise, the MP’s input has been precisely nil, other than to pass the letters on.

Well, spring will be here soon and I look forward to an early summer crossing of the repaired stones! This is Bradford and I will believe it when I see it!

In the meantime, feel free to continue raising the matter with Philip Davies, Nanje Ngoe or anyone else you think can move this forward.

5 November 2012

A long time since I posted any news. Despite assurances that replacement stones have been cut and that funding is secure, nothing has happened. "Bradford is not a very good council and has not been for a very long time." This will be of no surprise to local residents. This damning critique, more significant in that it is from an actual councillor,  is not mine but that of Councillor Matt Palmer who represented Burley at Bradford Council until he resigned to move to Jersey. He even went on to say that "Wharfedale should seek a new more locally accountable and more democratic model as should the City of Bradford. That would give both the chance to make their way". His comments have been widely reported in the local paper. I have no doubt Wharfedale would be better without Bradford whose Council have presided over the decline of the City to a point where it is one of the poorest in the country (quite obvious as you travel through it), allowed its center to be decimated, not least by the Westfield development fiasco but see fit to spend £20 odd million pounds on a big pond!

16 December 2011

The Clerk to Burley Parish Council has been actively pursuing the repair of The Stones with Bradford Highways Structures. Contractors were appointed in August 2011. Stones have been cut for repairs to the appropriate stones and although the contractors went to the river to retrieve stones which have moved but are still serviceable, there was a problem with equipment on the day and river levels have since been too high. Assurances have been received that the funding is secure and that as soon as practicable, the work will be carried out.

3 May 2011 - Feedback from Highways Structures at BMDC.  They surveyed the stones on 23/3/11.  They know there is considerable damage and are drawing up a scheme for repairs along with other repairs in the district.  Estimated date for repairs will be early summer.

10 March 2011 - Extract from the minutes of the Burley Parish Council Meeeting on 10 March 2011

The clerk has made some enquiries re: research on the stones across the River Wharfe and the effect the river bed was having on access to the stones. This would be pursued further.

19 February 2010 - Extract from the minutes of the Burley Parish Council Meeeting on 10 February 2011

247/1011 Stones Across the River Wharfe
Highways Structures at Bradford Council had reported that they had carried out some stabilisation works to the stones in Autumn 2010. Councillors expressed some surprise at this; it had not been known locally that any work had taken place. The work to repair the stones had been expected to be of a larger scale and there was some concern that Bradford Council were not adhering to the earlier agreement to repair the stones more fully.
High water levels at the current time made it difficult to properly assess the condition of the stones and what repairs had taken place. As construction of the hydro-electric scheme is well advanced and due to complete in the coming weeks it was agreed to wait until the scheme commences, and river levels drop, to properly survey the stones and any work that is required.
The clerk had continued to try to engage the Environment Agency in a discussion on the condition of the river bed and the impact this had on the stones. Emails to the contact at the EA [Environment Agency] were now going unanswered and the clerk suggested contacting the relevant department.

12 December 2010 - Rather belatedly, below is an extract from issue 123 of the "West Riding Rambler", the journal of the West Riding Ramblers Association:

"The recently formed “Save Our Stones” (SOS) has contacted the West Riding Rambler over the April 2010 article “Burley Bridge Might Be a Footbridge After All”. SOS wishes to point out that it “supports the concept of a bridge but one appropriate to its surroundings and proportionate to need – i.e. a simple footbridge.
However, as any bridge has virtually no chance of success due to difficulty in securing landowners’ consents and in the absence of any local authority commitment, SOS is pressing to have The Stones at Burley restored as the only realistic way of achieving an improvement to the Right of Way crossing.”
The Ramblers’ Association considers that a bridge across the River Wharfe is essential, but is not against improvement of the stones until a bridge is built. The design of the proposed bridge is currently under review and revised proposals are likely to be drawn up and made public in the near future."

11 October 2010 - Save Our Stones has featured in the October 2010 edition of the Burley Parish Council Newsletter. The article includes the request for old photos of The stones especially from the 1950s and 1960s. It is their condition then to which Bradford Council have acknowledged an obligationto maintain them.

15 September 2010

1) A result! Highways Structures at Bradford Council have now advised that a contractor has been appointed to carry out repairs to the stones.  Work will take place between now and Christmas. Once we have a start date, it will be shown so that those who are interested can go down for a look.  The exact nature of what the repairs will be is yet to be determined so may be a little early to celebrate but it is a positive start.

2) Britain's oldest conservation society the Open Spaces Society has indicated support for Save Our Stones by listing our website  on its "links" page. SOS has reciprocated. OSS aim is to protect, increase, enhance and champion the common land, village greens, open spaces and public rights of way in England and Wales, and the public's right to enjoy them. The organisations is a charity dependent on subscriptions and SOS supporters are encouraged to join.

14 September 2010

1) The latest position reported in the minutes of the Parish Council meeting on 9 September 2010 is that the Clerk has made contact with the Environment Agency (EA). Discussions are on-going over what assistance the EA could provide in assessing the river bed around the stones and the accessibility of the stones.

The clerk had yet to receive a reply from Highways Structures at BMDC in regard to the planned repairs to the stones.

2) Visitors to this site will also be interested to know that work has started on construction of the hydro-electric plant referred to in previous updates. This will result in water being drawn from above the weir and so reduce (though never cease for environmental reasons) the flow of water at The Stones.

6 September 2010

1) A new picture of The Stones has been received taken in 1986, Compared to their current state, this shows dramatically how Bradford Council has allowed access via this Right of Way to deteriorate over the years. See Comparative Pictures

2) Reported in the Yorkshire Post 13 August 2010 (see here). Part of the article said:

"Bradford Council, which increased its council tax by 0.9 per cent this year, had the largest reserves at the end of the last financial year, totalling almost £120m.

By contrast, Leeds – Yorkshire's biggest council, with a budget 60 per cent larger than Bradford's – was sitting on around half that amount.

It is considered prudent for all councils to have a certain amount of cash in reserve in case of unexpected occurrences or budget overspends. But some have built up vast stockpiles, often from the sale of public assets such as council houses or disused buildings.

A spokesman for Bradford Council told the Yorkshire Post that around £20m of its reserves had since been spent on this year's budget and much of the remainder was either ring-fenced or earmarked for council projects. But some £22m remains available for use."

You would think therefore Bradford could afford to rectify the problems with The Stones!

13 August 2010 - SOS has just been made aware of West Riding Rambler Issue 121 - April 2010 which contains the following:

"Recently, a group Save Our Stones (SOS) has been formed
to restore the stepping stones at Burley which are badly
eroded, and rarely above water. The group is pushing this
option as an alternative to the bridge."

An email has been sent to the Ramblers as follows:

"Save Our Stones (SOS) objects to this wording as it is incorrect. SOS is not ".... pushing this option as an alternative ....". SOS supports the concept of a bridge but one appropriate to its surroundings and proportionate to the need - i.e. a simple footbridge. However, as any bridge has virtually no chance of success due to difficulty in securing landowners' consents and in the absence of any local authority commitment, SOS is pressing to have The Stones at Burley restored as the only realistic way of achieving an improvement to the Right of Way crossing. The Stones also have an industrial archeological value. The ludicrous bridge design being proposed until recently, namely the "two lane highway" made the project even more unlikely and cancelled out much support the Burley Bridge Association had.

I would be grateful if you would print a correction."

22 July 2101 - Following hard on the heels of the 1978 picture referred to below, a further old picture has been received. Unfortunately, we have no date for this. It appears to be taken from the north bank downstream of The Stones. They look to be in pristine condition and even the top of the cill looks to be clear of the water. This suggests that silt has been allowed to build up over the years so raising the water level and reducing the periods when easy crossing would have been posible. See the last picture on the Comparative Pictures page.

20 July 2010 - In response to the request for photos of The Stones, SOS has received one date stamped on the back 1978 (so although it could be earlier, it is presumably no later). It is really an "artistic" photo and does not help a great deal in determining the condition of The Stones although they do appear to be in an unbroken line as far as one can tell. It can be seen on the Comparative Pictures page.

24 June 2010 - Two articles have appeared in today's Ilkley Gazette.

1) The latest on the hydro-electric scheme which can be seen here. 

2) A response from the Burley Bridge Association to the letter referred to below. This can be seen here.

The BBA response confirms finally that they have no agreement to a bridge with landowners nor have the local authorities indicated that they will use compulsory powers. This is after a campaign which began in 1996! They go on to say that planning permission was granted for a footbridge in 1999 but it did not go ahead due to lack of landowner support. The reason for the "optimism" referred to in the article in the Ilkley Gazette on 10 June 2010 was because the local authorities have agreed they now prefer ...er ... a footbridge! There seems to be an obvious lack of a step in the logic here somewhere!

On the positive side, at paragraph 4, they support making The Stones more viable so come on Bradford MDC, Environment Agency et al, let's do it!

The Parish Council are pursuing.

18 June 2010 - A letter appeared in the Ilkley Gazette on 17 June 2010 from a Save Our Stones supporter in response to an article in the 10 June 2010 edition titled "Optimism over bid to get footbridge". Essentially, the letter picks up on the point raised by SOS some time ago and asks the Burley Bridge Association to confirm (in view of this optimism) that they have agreement at least in principle from the landowners involved to build a bridge - otherwise how can one ever be built. The letter can be seen here

10 May 2010 - A very positive meeting of interested parties was held. Those present were:

Jon Obank (JO) – West Riding Anglers
Peter Grinham (PG) – Save Our Stones
Danny Jackson (DJ) – Countryside & Rights of Way, Bradford Council
Kath Windett (KW) – Rights of Way, Bradford Council
Jo Griffiths (JG) – Clerk to Burley Parish Council
Sylvia Tilford (ST) – Burley Parish Council
Duncan Ault (DA) – Save Our Stones
Michael Bartholomew (MB) – Ramblers Association
Richard Todd (RT) – Highways Structures, Bradford Council

The meeting confirmed a number of important points previously stated by SOS namely:

  • There is a pedestrian Right of Way across the stones on the Definitive Map from the early 1950s.
  • BMDC had a responsibility to maintain the Right of Way in the condition it was in when first registered.
  • BMDC has responsibility for maintenance of all of the stones regardless of the boundary between West and North Yorkshire
  • The stones are now less accessible [than they were in the 1980s] due to the amount of time during the year that they are covered by water
  • At least two stones are loose and require repair works
  • The river bed level has risen due to the drop out of sediment on the river bed.

The question as to who might carry out work to improve matters is yet to be clarified. Richard Todd (RT) – Highways Structures, Bradford Council is to start start the process of generating the scheme of work as it would require Environment Agency permission but also, Burley Parish Council is to contact the Environment Agency to express concerns about the river bed and request that they carry out work to reduce the level of accumulated silt/gravel.

Jon Obank from West Riding Anglers (who own the riverbed) said he could not see that it would be detrimental to the Anglers if more of the stones were uncovered. This is good news as their position on the issue was previously unclear.

The full minutes can be seen here.

4 May 2010 - Confirmation has now been received from Derwent Hydroelectric Power Ltd that the final decision on the hydroelectric power scheme for Burley-in-Wharfedale was taken at the end of last week. It is to proceed and is expected to be operating within the next 12 months. This is excellent news environmentally and will also increase the times when the Right Of Way across The Stones is accessible by reducing the water flow over the weir.

15 April 2010 - 1) The Ilkley Gazette has today published an article confirming what is referred to below on 26 March 2010 namely that the Burley Bridge Association have gone back to the drawing board and now intend to revert to a simple footbridge. The article can be seen here. The third paragraph from the end says "A group called Save Our Stones was recently set up, campaigning to instead have the eroded stepping stones across the river restored". This is open to misinterpretation as a preference not to have a bridge. This is not the case. SOS simply want The Stones restored to make a crossing more usable in recognition of the fact that the BBA have failed so far to convince that they can deliver any sort of bridge (they have been trying for about 13 years) and in particular have not demonstrated that they can secure the relevant landowners' consents or local authority compulsion.

2) SOS has today written to Burley Parish Council suggesting that if heavy machinery is to be deployed to clear the goit (see entry below), there might be an opportunity to negotiate with the contractor to take advantage of their presence and get the island which is preventing efficient water flow away from The Stones removed.

6 April 2010 - SOS has received information that work has started clearing an area of shrubs/trees etc around the old goit by the river in Burley in preparation for starting work on the hydro electric scheme. The clearing work is in preparation for heavy plant to dredge the goit. This work being done now so that nesting birds and wildlife don’t have a chance to establish themselves as they would normally. SOS has had confirmation that Derwent Hydro and TLS (Trade Link Solutions) are partners in the project. They anticipate construction begining in the summer and  the first electricity being generated early next year. Hydro electricity generation will drop the water level around The Stones and improve the opportunities for a dry foot access over them. It is also hoped Bradford Council will meet their obligations to restore The Stones so that maximum access is achieved. 

26 March 2010 - the BBA reported on their website that the idea of a bridge which could accommodate horses was to be dropped and consideration to be given to a "footbridge". Design proposals are awaited. However, they still need to be able to demonstrate that they can secure landowners’ consents or the appropriate local authority compulsion, not to mention funding.

Until we have any realistic indication that the bridge project can succeed  and some  sort of outline timetable for delivery, restoring the Right of Way across The Stones is still the most likely way of achieving a crossing.

24 March 2010 - The minutes of the Parish Council meeting on 11 March 2010 have been published. The minutes record:

"The clerk reported she had received a reply from West Yorkshire Anglers. WY Anglers onfirmed that work had been carried out below the stones to help balance the flow of water either side of the island and to help stop the north bank eroding. There are no plans to carry out any further work.

Cllr Palmer had advised that he had not received a reply from Bradford Council re: the promised survey or any information on the injunction and legal situation. Councillors asked the clerk to try to move this matter forward and report back to the next meeting."

This last statement is in conflict with information received from the Bradford Countyrsideand Rights of Way Manager by SOS in response to an enquiry. This reads:

"Hello,
 
Thank you for your e-mail.
 
I have made some enquiries with a colleague in the Council's Highway Structures Unit (Richard Todd) regarding the survey work that you mention. It is this team who will be inspecting the structures, not the Countryside and Rights of Way team.
 
Richard informs me that he inspected the site on 18 February 2010 and water levels were raised with flooding towards the Burley side.
 
I quote:  "Since the landowner has carried out downstream reshaping of the river bed it is evident that the stones should at least be passable in drywater flow something that couldn't be said last year.
 
An island of river deposits on the Burley side does cut down the available river channel and consequently flooding of the stones will continue to occur more frequently.
 
The stones were inspected last year as promised, they were underwater.
 
The 'stepping stones' original purpose was to protect the weir not as a right of thoroughfare, the stones themselves are in a good condition so neglect is not an issue. Further inspections will be carried out this year during dry periods".
 
It might be more fruitful if you contacted Richard direct if you have any further queries regarding the inspections - his e-mail is richard.todd@bradford.gov.uk
 
Regards

Danny Jackson

Countryside and Rights of Way Manager"

To avoid confusion and keep the communication lines clear, this disparity has been referred to the Parish Clerk who has indicated intention to hold a meeting of interested parties.

It has been reported separately that work has begun to clear the goit in preparation for the hydro-electric scheme (see entry 24 October 2009 below). If this is correct, it is good news for The Stones as it will decrease the water flow over the weir and consequently The Stones.

15 March 2010 - SOS approached Matt Palmer for an update regarding the date for a survey of The Stones by Bradford Council (December survey abandoned due to high water levels) and whether any photographs had been received in response to the article in the Ilkley Gazette.

He advises that he has not yet been able to get a revised date for the survey. SOS has asked supporters to write to Danny Jackson the Countryside and Rights of Way Manager at Bradford Council emphasising the need for action. No photographs have been received other than those submitted with observations by SOS. See entry 14 January 2010 below.

18 February 2010 -  In respect of the Parish Council Meeting 11 February 2010 - SOS asked the Parish Clerk why the Save Our Stones issue was not on the agenda, there being outstanding issues from the meeting on 14 January 2010. It was explained that to include all outstanding items each time would make the agenda unreasonably long. Such items are controlled via the Clerk's Report  which is used to update councillors on on-going issues.  The Clerk can provide a lot of information in one or two line items that are then minuted rather than having a number of actual agenda items. This is evidently the appropriate procedural approach which PCs follow.

The minutes of the meeting on 11 February 2010 reported "The clerk had written to West Yorkshire Anglers enquiring what work had been carried out on the stones across the River Wharfe and what plans they had for any more work. A reply had not yet been received."

Separately via the Burley Forum, Councillor Palmer was asked for an update on the survey of The Stones by Bradford Council. He responded that he had been advised it was going to be December 2009 but water levels precluded it. He is to drop them a reminder.

21 January 2010 - An article has appeared in today's Ilkley Gazette regarding The Stones in which Councillor Matt Palmer asks for any historical photos.

14 January 2010 - Progress in respect of The Stones was reviewed at the Parish Council Meeting. The minutes record:

"Cllr Palmer reported that he had received a large number of documents relating to the Stones and their history from Bradford Council officers. The documents would be held in the Parish Council office and residents or councillors were able to view them by prior arrangement with the clerk. Cllr Palmer reported that he was seeking guidance from Legal Services at Bradford Council on what injunctions existed regarding the stones. The clerk reported that she had received information regarding the Rights of Way over the river from officers at Bradford Council. It had not been necessary to contact the Ramblers Association as the information from Bradford Council had been sufficient. Cllr Forrest would provide contact details for the Anglers Club so that polite enquiries could be made by the Parish Council as to what works had been carried out recently and were planned for the area around the stones."

14 January 2010 - Photo of The Stones taken in 1949 and 1980 received. The 1980 picture in particular confirms deterioration of their condition. See full photos and comments on them.

7 January 2010 - Bradford Council are to carry out a survey of The Stones. Timing will be dependent on river levels and scheduling.

4 January 2010 - Save Our Stones observations to Burley-in-Wharfedale Parish Council on documents obtained by Councillor Matt Palmer from Bradford MDC archives. Click here.

19 December 2009 - Councillor Palmer has provided a brief update on his progress via the Burley Forum as follows:

"I am awaiting a copy of the full file on this which will be placed on the forum when received. Other queries are with legal services. They have a lot to do and I don't expect answers overnight. Other queries are with the rights of way team. They have to look in to things I have asked before getting back to me. A week does not go past without correspondence on the matter!"

SOS appreciates there are likely to be considerable issues to resolve in restoring The Stones. Hopefully Councillor Palmer and the Parish Council working together will achieve a positive outcome.

17 December 2009 - The Parish Council (PC) minutes of the meeting on 10 December 2009, including their consideration of the Save Our Stones submission have now been published. It is in two sections, the first being in respect of representations made by three Burley residents in support of SOS and the second part the views of the Parish Council and actions proposed. SOS would like to express thanks to the residents who attended the meeting and to praise the PC for its active involvement. The minutes read:

"154/0910 Public Participation
Three residents were present to ask the Parish Council to add its weight to the Save Our
Stones campaign: Various efforts have been made over the years to preserve the Right
of Way that crosses the stones in the River Wharfe. The situation is now more urgent as
the stones require refurbishment and the campaign for a bridge across the River Wharfe
seems to have lost momentum. It was the assertion of those present that they did not
expect to be able to cross the river at all times. Efforts should be made to make the best
of this amenity in Burley and for the Parish Council to ascertain who is responsible for the maintenance of the stones and urge action to be taken to retain them.
Cllr Dale thanked the residents for expressing their views and advised that the Parish
Council would discuss this and additional correspondence received on this subject later in
the meeting.
 

173/0910 Save Our Stones Correspondence
Councillors had received correspondence from a number of residents and heard the
views of local residents on the subject of the Save Our Stones campaign. Councillors had
also received information that Cllr Palmer was working on this topic but no details.
Councillors discussed the right of ways that existed across the river at this point. It was
understood that the Anglers Club owned the stones but that an injunction had existed
preventing work being carried out on the stones, it was not clear if the injunction was still valid.
Councillors agreed that they were in principle in favour of re-furbishment of the stones
and suggested that if necessary money should be requested from the Ward Investment
Fund to carry out this work. Councillors agreed: to ask Cllr Palmer for details of what
action is being taken by him on this subject; to contact the Anglers Club to find out what
proposals they have to re-furbish the stones; speak to the Ramblers Association
regarding the legal rights to cross the river at this point and speak to the Rights of Way
Officer at Bradford Council regarding the council’s responsibilities to maintain this right of way."

The full minutes can be viewed here.

10 December 2009 - Submission referred to below tabled for discussion at the full meeting of Burley Parish Council on 10 December 2009. The response from the PC is awaited. No further news yet from Councillor Palmer.

1 December 2009 - Submission sent to each member of Burley-in-Wharfedale Parish Council (including Councillor Palmer) asking them to add their voice to the campaign and effectively "own" the issue on behalf of the residents of Burley. A copy of the submission can be viewed  here. At the same time, it has been copied to supporters with a request that they write to the Parish Council adding their support. If you would like to add your support also, please email Save Our Stones to be sent all the information.

24 November 2009 - Councillor Palmer advised via the Burley Forum: "Just to advise I am still trying to get a clear answer to this one (restoring the stepping stones). Just to advise I've tracked down the council officer who has been dealing with this and will let you know the outcome of discussions. I've asked the area co-rindator's office to look in to it as well." He went on to say: "Understand news is frustratingly slow, I am trying to get a conclusive answer as to responsbilities for maintenance and the options available to us. Please keep me advised of your plans."

It looks as though Councillor Palmer is as frustrated as everyone else.

23 November 2009 - The local councillor Matt Palmer has evidently been unable to progress the issue of The Stones with Bradford Council and the matter is therefore to be escalated. A submission is being prepared. Supporters will be kept informed.

8 November 2009 - The following entry appeared on the Burley-in-Wharfedale Village Website. Although it directs visitors to the village Forum to encourage debate, there is evidently some technical problem for new registrations. [Since resolved]

Please support the Save Our Stones campaign directly via this Save Our Stones website preferably by email to the address at the head of this page or here.

 

24 October 2009

1) There is a  possibility of a hydroelectric plant at Burley.

The company concerned is Derwent Hydroelectric Power Ltd. After checking with them, SOS can report that it is not yet certain this will go ahead but they hope to be in a position to say for sure by the end of the year. They confirm the diversion of water to their turbines will reduce the flow of water over the weir which should make The Stones easier to cross. It is expected that for 30 to 35% of the year the river flows will be too large for their extraction to make much difference.

For the driest 15 to 20% of the year, they will not operate because there would not be enough water for them to do so without drying the intermediate reach of the river to an extent that would be ecologically unacceptable.

Save Our Stones supports the turbine project as it is a sensible use of an ecologically “free” resource to help our ailing planet and not least of course because it will increase the viability of The Stones.

2) Councillor Matt Palmer has been asked for an update on his enquiries with Bradford MDC regarding restoration of The Stones,  as it is now two months since he undertook to follow up the issue.

10 October 2009 - Various design proposals for  "stepping stones" type crossings kindly submitted by "Jorty". Click here.

7 October 2009 - The Burley-in-Wharfedale Village Website has rightly picked up on the growing debate over The Stones/bridge  issue (including making use of the SOS photo of The Stones - which is fine). Please, anyone who supports restoring The Stones, record your support on this site so we have a clear indication of that support. Engaging in the debate on the village forum is good but it is difficult to pick out from the mass of posts now accumulating  exactly how many support the SOS principle.

5 October 2009 - Posters are now available for download directly from this site to publicise the campaign. The are formatted in black and white and on the assumption that most people have access to an A4 printer. They comprise a larger poster for full A4, two smaller posters to print on one A4 sheet and split and "business card" size slips to pass to contacts. Whilst probably most applicable to people in Burley-in-Wharfedale or close by, anyone who can usefully deploy the posters should feel free. Click on the appropriate link below. They are readable in any version of Word from 1993 onwards. Anyone wishing a different format should email SOS.

Poster Large

Poster small

Business Cards

25 September 2009 - An article has appeared in the Ilkley Gazette “Residents support new bid for bridge over the Wharfe”.

In the article the BBA claims to have 200 letters  from Burley-in-Wharfedale residents supporting their bridge, after sending out a letter asking for support.

The 2001 census shows a population of 5865. It must have increased considerably since then in view of all the new dwellings but let’s just call it a very safe 6000 in round figures. According to Government statistics, in Yorkshire 20.2% are children (under 16). So if we deduct them on the assumption the 200 letters are from adults, this leaves 4788 adults. If we assume this represents 2394 households (it will actually be more as there are many single occupants but I am skewing the figures in the BBA’s favour by simply dividing by 2) and we further assume that the BBA have played fair and only counted one letter per household then the BBA have established that 8.4% of Burley residents support their bridge. Less than 10% after 13 years of activity – underwhelming!

Another way of looking at it is that 91.6% either do not want the bridge or don’t care.

In fact, pointing to 200 supporters in Burley is largely irrelevant anyway as any crossing is likely to be used by more walkers from outside the village exploring the Wharfe Valley footpaths - which is fine.

The article further says the new bridge could carry horse as well as pedestrians and be accessible to those with limited mobility. So how is this different to the bridge which has been shown on their website for a while. In short what new bridge? The article does not mention a cost but on the face of it, we are still looking at the £1m area.

I have done some maths on their fundraising. The annual Burley Hike takes place on 14 November 2009 and according to their website is their main fundraising event. It is expected to attract about 250 hikers each paying £8.50 on the day. To be really generous to the BBA, lets assume 300 turn up and have turned up for each of the 13 years of the BBA existence (which they will not as these things have to build up). 300 x 13 = 3900 attendances. If we assume they each pay not £8.50 but £10, this gives a total raised of £39,000. To be madly generous, let’s double it to £78,000 to allow for any lesser fundraising. So only £922,000 to go!

Let's face it, unless the BBA can establish they have a firm funding commitment (even if subject to planning and landowner approvals), it simply is not going to happen. So -
Save Our Stones – which especially on the basis of the photos referred to below are not a lost cause. As said before, restoring The Stones does not preclude a bridge in the future should the BBA's Good Luck Fairy materialise.

24 September 2009 - SOS visits The Stones and takes two photos. The first one of The Stones themselves shows, most of The Stones are above water and even those which are under would not have been a problem in hiking boots. We have had a long dry spell but there is still a fair amount of water coming over the The Weir . I know there is often much more water but I am encouraged to believe that The Stones are not beyond redemption and could (and should) be restored.

22 September 2009 - SOS has traced minutes of SHIPLEY AREA COMMITTEE and BURLEY PARISH COUNCIL NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM MEETING dated 18 January 2007 at which a Ms Flecknoe (Area Coordinator for Bradford MDC) undertook to check if there was an injunction in force. Councillor Matt Palmer has been advised and has confirmed he is digging into the matter.

17 September 2009 - Councillor Palmer asked for an update as it is four weeks since he undertook to follow up the issue. The response - "I am looking at the matter".

22 August 2009 - Councillor Matt Palmer is pursuing the matter.

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