In a joint statement, Ilkley District Councillors, Mike Gibbons, Anne Hawkesworth and Kyle Green have outlined why they do not support the Ilkley Clean River Groups application for bathing water status for the River Wharfe in Ilkley.
"At the moment we are being asked by DEFRA to give our views on an application for "Bathing Water Status" for the River Wharfe in the Ilkley area.
This consultation is very specifically on Bathing Water Status alone.
Much talk about cleaning up the river is going on, we believe in an effort to merge this topic in peoples minds with the Bathing Water Status application, they are different.
I'm sure we can all agree that cleaning up the River Wharfe is a worthy and positive course of action, let's just not confuse the two things.
We are in fact being asked to "promote" and "encourage" bathing water status.
All rivers are dangerous and the River Wharfe especially so. Over the years there has been loss of life and “near misses” in the Wharfe on many, many occasions.
The Wharfe contains currents and whirlpools and has pollutants both natural and Man made, flowing down stream through the Ilkley stretch.
Should we really give a "Green Light" to this Swimming Status and then potentially expect others to deal with the resultant problems and often serious consequences.
We have always had visitors to Ilkley and have welcomed responsible tourism.
During this year’s summer though, the use of Ilkley’s riverside by visitors has been beyond breaking point. Bathing Water Status would only make the position worse. There is little prospect of facilities being improved for visitors, and so the problems of which we are all too aware would only magnify, for example by reducing the adjacent woodlands and cemetery areas to an even bigger informal public lavatory, as we have seen, with human faeces, used lavatory paper and soiled sanitary products being abandoned there.
There has been alarming and very serious implications on Law & Order, substance/alcohol abuse, broken glass/rubbish and parking/road blockage problems.
Our 999 and District Council services have enough to deal with, without us adding to risks and anti-social behaviour, not to mention the enormous costs involved.
We do not want or need this behaviour at our riverside, let alone encourage it.
We urge concerned residents to take part in the DEFRA consultation which can be accessed on the internet at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/water/bathing-water-river-wharfe-ilkley/ The deadline is 2 October 2020..
Our judgement is not to support the application for bathing water status and we urge the Town Council to take a similar stance. We need to consider safety first."
Your District Councillors, Mike Gibbons, Anne Hawkesworth & Kyle Green.