OTLEY Town Council has agreed to explore the possibility of taking over responsibility for the Navvies Memorial.

The historic, Grade II Listed monument on Church Lane is a replica of the entrance to Bramhope railway tunnel, and was built in tribute to the 23 men killed building it in the mid 19th Century.

It currently, however, has no identified owner - which is stopping Otley Conservation Task Force from applying for funding to make repairs.

The town council was asked to consider taking on ownership of the memorial last November but, though sympathetic, was wary of doing so in case it set a dangerous precedent.

That situation has now changed thanks to an offer of financial assistance from the Railway Heritage Trust - which should help pave the way for a Heritage Lottery Fund application for most of the £20,000 that is needed.

A recent meeting of the council's Environment and Sustainability Committee agreed to explore the ownership issue further, as Chairman Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) explained.

He said: "The appetite of the council to take on responsibility for the long-term care of the memorial has been boosted by an offer of £6,000 grant from the Railway Heritage Trust, which is subject to resolving the ownership questions.

"Further discussion with Otley Parish Church and Leeds City Council has been agreed.

"Once those discussions are done, we will take a proposal to a future Policy and Resources committee and hopefully be able to accept the responsibility for what will then be a restored asset, visitor attraction and important part of our town's heritage."