The big stories of 2013 from across the district - July to December

The big stories of 2013 from across the district - July to December

In September a huge blaze took hold at the Airedale Air Conditioning factory in Rawdon. Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles around. Nearby homes and businesses were evacuated as 100 firefighters tackled the blaze.

The mayors of Leeds and Otley teamed up to unveil the new name of the town’s bypass in November. The road has been renamed Rotary Way in recognition of the work local Rotarians have been doing to keep this stretch of the A660 looking attractive

In November Ilkley Grammar School students visited what were once battlefields in the First World War in northern France and Belgium, including the Somme. Pictured are some of the 150 Year 9 pupils who went on the trip.

Campaigners celebrated in September when it was announced the wind turbines in a picturesque spot overlooking Chelker Reservoir near Addingham were to be taken down.

Justin Osmond, son of The Osmonds singer Merrill, took to the Cow and Calf rocks for an abseil to raise funds and awaressness of his charity The Hearing Fund UK in August.

First published in News

JULY

An MP escaped death by inches after a lorry’s wheel crashed from 40ft in the air into his car on the M1. Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, walked away unharmed after the wheel ploughed into his car, leaving it wrecked. He was told by police if the impact had been just a fraction closer he could have been killed or seriously injured.

Ilkley Cycling Club raced to victory in a prestigious national award. The club won the Sport and Recreation Alliance’s Community Sport and Recreation Awards Club of the Year at an awards ceremony at St James’s Palace in London. The prestigious award, presented by the Alliance’s president, HRH The Earl of Wessex, celebrates the very best that community sport and recreation clubs offer across the country.

Otley councillors agreed that no more major housing developments should proceed without “significant investment” in a new bypass, schools and affordable housing. The town council, in a unanimous, cross-party response to a consultation on future housing across Leeds, also insisted that brownfield – previously developed – sites be used first. And it agreed with Leeds City Council’s rejection of a number of proposed green plots included in the draft Sites Allocation Plan, including a rugby ground and allotments at Cross Green, while stressing the need for more employment opportunites.

Plans to change a horse’s field into a car park were abandoned after residents opposed plans submitted by Ilkley Tennis Club. The club made amendments to expansion plans after objections and petitions were lodged. It agreed to create a footpath for enhanced pedestrian safety – to Rambler’s Association specifications – from the bottom of Stourton Road to the tennis club buildings - a hazardous stretch of the Dales Way currently shared by cars and walkers.

AUGUST

A ten-year-old boy who could give Einstein a run for his money was celebrating after getting an A in his A-level maths. Thomas Frith, a pupil at West End Primary School, had been studying for the exam for two years – joining classes with sixth formers at Horsforth School.

A new campaign group pressed businesses in Ilkley to pay their workers a “living wage”, as local churches took their own action to tackle poverty. While Churches Together in Ilkley worked on plans for a local food bank, a campaign group formed by residents, Ilkley Living Wage, began sending letters to employers across Ilkley urging them to pay staff at least £7.45 an hour.

A project to share untold stories of the First World War received a funding boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Otley Museum received £8,200 for the Legacies of War: Untold Otley Stories scheme it is working on to mark the centenary of the conflict. The project will focus on stories of individuals, families and the town’s community during the First World War and its aftermath, with the museum aiming to produce a booklet and multi-media exhibition in the town from August to November.

The founder of The Hearing Fund UK, Justin Osmond – son of The Osmonds lead singer Merrill – took on the heights of the Cow and Calf rockface in Ilkley to raise funds for deaf children and their families in Yorkshire. Justin was joined by The Hearing Fund UK team member Pauline Redpath and 16-year-old fundraiser Beth McConnell, of Leeds, who took on the challenge to boost fundraising efforts for The Hearing Fund UK’s 2013 charity partner, Music and the Deaf.

SEPTEMBER

Firefighters tackled a massive blaze at a factory in Rawdon. Fire tore through Airedale Air Conditioning, sending plumes of smoke hundreds of feet into the air. Nearby homes and businesses were evacuated and roads were closed as 100 firefighters tackled the blaze. But management vowed no jobs would be lost, and the company continued to go from strength to strength.

A masked robber was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for a terrifying daylight sledgehammer raid on a jeweller’s shop. Darren Pallas, 22, of Cross Green Lane, Leeds, was one of a gang wearing black balaclava masks who tried to smash their way into Rolex watch specialist Lister Horsfall in Ilkley town centre on June 6 last year. Pallas denied attempted robbery but was convicted by a jury at Bradford Crown Court.

Campaigners celebrated when they learned wind turbines on prominent high ground overlooking Wharfedale were to be dismantled following a lengthy planning battle mounted by residents. The four 45-metre high turbines at Chelker Reservoir were later taken down from the scenic spot where they have stood since the 1990s.

Leeds City Council confirmed it was pushing ahead with plans to make more than 100 of Otley’s residential streets 20mph zones. The road safety drive – started by Councillor Colin Campbell and financially backed by the Town Council – would cover nearly all residential and unnamed roads south of the river. Coun Campbell said it represented the first phase in a move to make Otley a 20mph town.

OCTOBER

An academic labour of love that documents eight centuries of Otley’s history hit the bookshelves. A Guide to the Townscape of Otley, Thirteenth to Twentieth Century, draws upon a wealth of sources to follow “the footprints of inhabitants over eight hundred years”. It is the first detailed book to be produced about the town’s history for more than 100 years. Author Paul Wood, Otley Museum’s keeper for nearly 30 years, said he had poured all of his 40-plus years’ experience in historical research into the publication.

The Box Tree Restaurant in Ilkley retained its highly-coveted Michelin star for the tenth year. The announcement was made ahead of publication of the 2014 Michelin Guide. The Box Tree is one of five restaurants in Yorkshire to be awarded a Michelin star, but the only one in West Yorkshire. Simon Gueller and wife Rena, who own and manage the restaurant, were delighted.

Opponents of plans for a bigger Tesco store in Ilkley vowed to lobby the Secretary of State after Bradford Council approved the scheme. Ilkley ward councillor Martin Smith spearheaded the bid to block the retail chain’s plan to build a new supermarket off Railway Road and Mayfield Road. The plan was approved by Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee last Thursday. The Secretary of State, however, later decided not to call in the plan.

Residents were reassured that safety would not be compromised by a partial switch-off of street lights across Wharfedale, Otley and Yeadon. Lights were being turned off on some roads between midnight and 5.30am as part of an energy and cost-cutting measure by Leeds City Council. The council is hoping the citywide scheme will save £1.3 million over the next decade.

NOVEMBER

Otley bypass was renamed in recognition of the “fantastic” work that had been done by the town’s Rotarians to improve the area. A new sign for the stretch of the A660, proclaiming it Rotary Way, was unveiled at a special ceremony where the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Thomas Murray, and Otley Town Mayor, Councillor Pam Gill, were among the guests. The Rotary Club of Otley Chevin has been carrying out mass litter-picks and – with Otley in Bloom – bulb-planting sessions alongside the road for years.

Concerns about housing targets across Otley, Aireborough and Wharfedale were raised in Parliament. Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland told the Commons many residents felt more needed to be done to ensure that housing developments did not go ahead where the local infrastructure and services were not adequate.

Meanwhile, housing targets for the Wharfedale district were slashed by a total of 1,500 homes under a new plan drawn up by Bradford Council planners. Local authority officers now say 1,000 new homes will be built in Ilkley and Addingham by 2030 in the proposed Core Strategy of its Local Plan – a development blueprint for the district. But campaigners fighting to stop building on fields in the area warned there could still be a battle to save the green belt.

Present students from Ilkley Grammar School walked in the footsteps of former pupils who gave their lives during the First World War. More than 150 Year 9 pupils, along with 19 staff, were met with the sobering sight of lines of headstones in war cemeteries, and saw the scene of the first gas attack of the war.

DECEMBER

Pool-in-Wharfedale’s hopes of creating an eye-catching artistic display for this year’s Tour de France were left hanging by a thread. The village is hoping to welcome the world’s top cyclists with a series of large customised banners, designed by local schoolchildren, along the route. But the organisers have just heard their application for funding help has failed. Project co-leader and Pool Parish Councillor Richard Parker, however, is vowing to push on and hopeful other funding streams can be found to cover the £10,000 costs.

A Guiseley primary school achieved the highest ranking in Yorkshire after an innovative change in the way children were taught. Youngsters at Tranmere Park gained top place in the Key Stage 2 tables, with 100 per cent achieving the standard expected of them in reading, writing and maths. The success came five years after the school introduced extra help much earlier for pupils who needed it.

A £300,000 revamp was put forward for the Coronation Hospital in Ilkley – but it was revealed it could prolong the life of the hospital by just five years. Bradford Council’s Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard of planned maintenance and improvement work planned by owner NHS Property Services. Representatives of Airedale Wharfedale and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Property Services, Bradford District Care Trust and Airedale NHS Foundation Trust assured the meeting they intend to keep providing services at the Springs Lane hospital in the medium term.

A mum battling cancer joined a campaign to prevent the closure of Ilkley’s Children Centre. She joined a campaign to Save Little Lane Children’s Centre after it emerged its future was under threat due to Bradford Council’s budget proposals which include plans to close seven children's centres across the district with a “lower need”. Those under threat include the children’s centre in Little Lane, Ilkley, and also Menston and Burley Children’s Centre, which only opened three years ago.

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