A ROW over the proposed removal of cobbles from a Yorkshire market town is over after council leaders bowed to public pressure to keep them.
East Riding Council’s plans to remove the stone setts from Beverley’s Saturday Market sparked a Save our Setts campaign that culminated with a 2,000-signature petition and protest parades.
The council had argued the proposal, which was due to form part of a £2.5m revamp of the area, was necessary for the safety of pedestrians and to provide a suitable surface for less able-bodied people, those in wheelchairs and pushing prams.
It had disputed claims from heritage groups the setts were original, arguing that second-hand stones had been relaid in Saturday Market in the early 1980s.
Following discussions with English Heritage and a meeting with the town’s civic society yesterday afternoon, however, the authority announced a “compromise agreement” which will see almost all of the cobbles taken up and relaid, by hand, at an additional cost of £150,000.
Council leader Stephen Parnaby said: “I am delighted that, following these further discussions with English Heritage and the Beverley Civic Society, an agreement on this element of the Saturday Market maintenance scheme has been reached, pending discussions on some of the detail.
“This council has, and continues to take, great care when it comes to consultation and, following the gatherings and correspondences in support of retaining the setts, I felt, as leader of the council, it was important to allow extra time for further discussions to take place.
“I now hope that this scheme, supported by English Heritage and the civic society, can now proceed in a timely manner with as little disruption as possible and provide Beverley with a space that can help this town maintain its place as one of the country’s most vibrant market towns.
“These revisions will now be reviewed by the Beverley area community partnership and will include those stakeholder groups previously consulted.”
During “productive and amicable” discussions yesterday the council said the civic society had accepted the amendments to improve the surface finish.
Under the agreement, crossing points, granite kerbs and gutters will be retained and any setts that are removed will be kept in storage for future use.
A spokesman for Beverley Civic Society said: “The Beverley Civic Society has had further discussions with East Riding of Yorkshire Council and has welcomed a revised scheme to retain the setts, subject to further discussions on minor details regarding the setting of the Market Cross and parking in relation to it.
“We welcome the retention and storage of historic materials for re-use within the town and are looking forward to further discussions regarding the scheme development.”
The changes will add 10 weeks to the scheme, with a projected completion date of early next year.