Treasured Otley maypole returns to town

Otley Maypole has now been replaced after a nine-month absence.

Otley Maypole has now been replaced after a nine-month absence.

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The people of Otley have welcomed the return of a maypole to the heart of their town – nine months after it was controversially removed.

The previous pole, in Manchester Square, was hurriedly chopped down after a risk assessment ahead of the Tour de France revealed its base was rotting.

But the £56,000 project to replace it is now complete and yesterday Leeds City Councillors, members of Otley Town Council and other local representatives turned out for its unveiling.

Councillor Mark Dobson, the authority’s executive member for cleaner, safer and stronger communities, said: “It was a real honour to be in Otley’s Manchester Square to mark the official return of the maypole, which has been a permanent and popular fixture in the community for many decades.

“While a project like this might seem a simple one, a lot of work does have to be undertaken from both a planning and implementation point of view.”

The pole, believed to be the highest permanent one in Britain – stands at 75ft tall, around the same height as before. A further 12ft is below ground.

Local councillor Ryk Downes (Lib-Dem, Otley and Yeadon) said the specially-crafted pole had been made by a yacht mast makers in Portsmouth “and in theory, could last up to 200 years”.

He said: “We are delighted to see it back in place. It puts Otley back on the map because we were very disappointed it was cut down a week before the Tour de France.”

He added: “At least it’s in before May Day.”

An information board charting the history of the treasured maypole over hundreds of years has been added and the weather vane from the previous pole – which lasted just 52 years – now stands atop the new one.

Wendy Fawell.

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