Cllr Sandy Lay

Leeds City Council Liberal Democrat Councillor for Otley & Yeadon Learn more

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Answers to Otley Maypole Q’s from Leeds CC Chief Executive Tom Riorden

by Sandy on 25 June, 2014

Further to my and my colleagues questions with regards to the events leading up to the removal and what’s going to happen going forward.
Dear Councillors,

Thank you for your emails in connection with the removal of the Maypole in Otley on Friday 20th June. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the circumstances leading up to its removal and the current position regarding its replacement.

On Thursday the 19th June a Forestry Officer of the Parks and Countryside Service was inspecting trees in the Otley area. On passing the Maypole he noticed that it appeared to be leaning at a slight angle and thought it prudent to stop and have a closer examination. A visual assessment of the maypole was undertaken. Our Forestry Officers are trained to recognise decay in trees (the Maypole is a similar structure) and understand the implications of the risks involved. The risks are graded and managed in accordance with the Council’s Tree Risk Management procedure. As there were signs of extensive cubicle brown rot at its base this was treated as an emergency which in accordance with the procedure means that remedial action must be undertaken within 24 hours. I have included a copy of the written inspection report D060899. The officer notified his line manager and officers were contacted in Highways for consultation on how to remove the Maypole safely as the nearby parking areas, road network and pathways would be affected. On Friday 20th June the Clerk of the Otley Town Council was notified of the problem and he agreed, considering the circumstances, that the Maypole should be removed. Highways Officers undertook the road closures and the Forestry Service using a hoist and winch removed the Maypole that day.

Unfortunately the Maypole had to be cut into manageable lengths to remove it safely. The weather vane, plaque and all associated metal work was removed and has been safely secured.

The Maypole has been in place since the 1960’s. The Town Council have undertaken safety inspections of it in the past, the last recorded inspection having taken place in 2012. The Maypole, however, is on land owned by Leeds City Council and therefore we will assume responsibility for its replacement. I have therefore asked officers from the Parks and Countryside Service to try and source a new Maypole to the same height and stature as the previous one. This will include the fixing of the weather vane and associated metal work. It is also important that the Maypole once installed has a regular inspection and maintenance regime and again this is something we can ensure is in place.

Unfortunately as I am sure you will understand, it will not be possible to have a replacement Maypole installed prior to the Tour De France event. The height of the Maypole dictates that it will require specialist fabrication as it cannot be constructed from one piece of timber. In addition it must be able to support the weight of the weather vane and associated metal work. The method of anchoring the new Maypole will also have to be investigated and this will also require specialist engineering solutions and possible works to the square itself.

I am aware that you were not notified of the removal of the Maypole and this was a serious oversight. You should have been and I sincerely apologise for this.

Officers from the Parks and Countryside Service will keep you informed of progress particularly once we have further information on the replacement options and if you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes


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