QUESTIONS have been raised about a proposed Flood Alleviation Scheme following fresh flooding at Otley.

The River Wharfe in the town spilled out onto nearby roads including Farnley Lane, Back Farnley Lane, Bridge Avenue and Billams Hill (closing Otley Bridge) on Saturday night.

Homes in the area narrowly avoided being flooded but residents had to endure an anxious night as they waited for the river level to drop. That conjured up unwelcome memories of Boxing Day, 2015, when many riverside homes flooded.

On-call firefighters last weekend, meanwhile, also had to help vehicles that had become stuck between Otley and Pool-in-Wharfedale and there were flood alerts and warnings along the valley including at Pool, Ilkley and Addingham.

The flooding came just weeks after the latest update was given - at Otley Core on February 28 - on the Otley Flood Alleviation Scheme. Its latest ‘preferred option’ proposes building a flood embankment to the west of Billams Hill, plus cutting back vegetation on islands downstream of Otley Weir.

Labour’s city council candidate for Otley and Yeadon, Elliot Nathan, however, has concerns: “Some residents of Newall Mount and Grange View are concerned about the impact of the embankment which will trap far more floodwater on the cattle market, fairground and show fields, with as yet unknown impact on their properties.

“This bank will also trap floodwater from Kell Beck, which floods more often than the river and submerges Green Lane footpath. Green Lane could be under water more often and for longer than at present, which will affect all the Weston estate residents who regularly use it.

“The flood alleviation plans are clearly labelled Draft for Consultation but those displayed in the Core have no details of who to contact, how to submit feedback, or how long the consultation will last.

“I am calling on the city council and Environment Agency project to provide more explanations and fuller details, to make themselves visible and available with named contact details clearly displayed online and at the Core, and to listen to residents.”

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said he was pleased that the early warning system - which includes an early distribution of sandbags* and was introduced after the 2015 floods - appeared to have worked.

And he believes the flood alleviation work will be welcomed by most residents when it is finally implemented. He said: “I have every sympathy with the residents of Farnley Lane and Bridge Avenue and believe Saturday night showed how important it is to get proper flood defences in place as soon as possible.

“I am frustrated these defences are taking a long time to implement but I appreciate that some significant work has to be carried out to produce defences which will be effective.

“I do, however, have concerns about the financial shortfall on the scheme. I have raised this in council and asked that the city council lobby government for more funding. Sadly the Labour group refused to support this.”

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “The team working on the Otley Flood Alleviation Scheme have been working hard to engage with residents throughout the course of the project, and listen to any key concerns and keep people up to date with the latest information.

“They have had good attendance at a number of drop-in sessions held in the local area and have taken on board advice from locals when asked for more detailed information.

“Contact details for the project team are provided on each of the newsletters should anyone have any queries about the scheme, and the team are more than happy to be contacted.”

The newsletters, which also contain contact and webpage details, are quarterly and sent to local residents to keep them regularly updated on the scheme’s progress. Three drop-in sessions have been held in Otley to date.

The flood alleviation scheme team has regularly worked from the Town Council offices - at Otley Core, on Orchard Gate - too, so that residents can drop in to see them if they have any questions. Queries about the project can also be put to the team by sending an e-mail to or calling (0113) 378 7304.

*Lots of residents have voiced their appreciation online for Otley Flood Response Team’s help, which included getting sandbags to threatened homes.