THE CHEVIN Cross looks certain not to be raised above Otley this Easter.

The 36ft high monument was due to be installed on Surprise View, where it would have stood for four weeks, on Sunday, March 28.

But Otley Churches Together has now been told by Leeds City Council (LCC), which owns the land, that due to Covid-19 restrictions the installation cannot take place.

Unless the council has a last minute change of heart that means this will be the first Easter since 2001, when Foot and Mouth disease restrictions were in force, that the cross has not been raised on the Chevin.

The Vicar of Otley, Rev Graham Buttanshaw, said: “I’m afraid Leeds City Council have told us we cannot erect the cross on the Chevin. That is in line with every other event on their land.

"I am obviously very disappointed but fully understand the council's decision.

“We will have a small cross, as usual, at the side of the Market Square.”

Otley councillors are calling for a rethink but don’t hold out much hope.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: “I am extremely disappointed. I appreciate the council has concerns about groups meeting but I feel the cross has immense value for Otley as a symbol of hope for all the community, and at the moment we need all the hope we can get.”

In his message to the authority’s Chief Executive, Tom Riordan, Cllr Campbell said: “The erection of the cross before Easter is an important religious symbol for the church community in Otley and beyond.

“Its presence overlooking the town during what is the most important Christian festival provides a symbol of hope. I appreciate that the Covid-19 outbreak has caused the council to look at events and take action to minimise the effect of the virus but, given the important social and symbolic nature of this event, I feel it would be of immense moral benefit for the entire community if the erection of the cross was allowed to go ahead.”

Councillor Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon), in his message, said: “The spiritual and emotional uplifting provided by having a cross in place should not be underestimated and I ask you to work with the cross team to find a solution.”About 50 people are needed to install the cross - but the Government is currently advising people to avoid mass gatherings and limit social contact