ILKLEY Town Council has confirmed that it has formally responded to DEFRA’s consultation on bathing water status for the River Wharfe in Ilkley. In its submission the Town Council indicates that it supports the proposal for designated bathing water status, and says: “Ilkley Town Council resolved at its Full Council meeting of September 7th 2020 to support the application for the addition of this stretch of the river Wharfe in Ilkley to the list of designated bathing waters.

“The Town Council has been kept fully informed of the activities of the Ilkley Clean River Group in developing this proposal for designation, and has been represented at meetings of the Group and at public meetings in the town over the last two years at which the river has been discussed. We have also provided funding to enable professional microbiological testing of the river water to be undertaken. The issue has been discussed by Town Councillors, in public, at several Full Council meetings, at which representatives of the Clean River Group and members of the public have been given the opportunity to speak or circulate written representations. Having noted these representations and discussed the issue in both Full Council and at its Green Spaces, Environment and Sustainability Committee, Ilkley Town Council confirms that it formally supports the application for designated bathing water status in Ilkley.

“Town Councillors recognise that designation of bathing water status alone will be insufficient to address some residents’ concerns about issues of safety and anti-social behaviour in the river and surrounding environment along this stretch. However, a substantial majority agreed that statutory water testing and the management plan required for designation would deliver clear benefits for residents and visitors alike. It is also agreed that this would be a valuable step towards improving the quality of the river for the many existing and future users, and towards ensuring a regulatory regime in which the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water accelerate measures to protect public safety and the aquatic environment.”

Ilkley Town Council also notes that since saving the Riverside Gardens toilets from closure by Bradford MDC in 2018 they have invested around £20,000 to totally replace the roof, remove asbestos and carry out essential internal repairs to keep the toilets in service. Over the course of the next six months, it is hoped that a second phase of refurbishment will completely remodel the inside of the toilet block with the addition of family-friendly facilities and wheelchair accessibility.

Ilkley Town Mayor Cllr Mark Stidworthy said: “As previously indicated, and as we repeat in the final paragraph of our consultation response, Ilkley Town Council is committed to working with all stakeholders, including Bradford Metropolitan District Council, District Councillors and local residents’ groups to ensure that water safety risks are properly assessed, and that the management plan takes into account the many pressures on the riverside area. Town Councillors have already started re-assessing the issue of water safety.”