STEPPING stones across the River Aire in Gargrave are to remain closed until next year.

The river crossing in the village's Low Green has been cordoned off ever since two of the stones were washed away.

Gargrave Parish Council has now agreed to delay repairs until next year to the spring or summer after hearing a temporary 'sticking plaster' repair would cost in the region of £1,640, including replacement stone and excavation work.

Permanent repairs will now be carried out when the river is less likely to be high flowing, councillors said after agreeing it would be a waste of money to carry out temporary repairs and it would be better to wait until the river conditions were more favourable.

Council chair, Councillor Stephen Coetzer said at last week's meeting in the village hall he was happy to see the stones remain cordoned off until the summer months when the repairs could be done properly after Cllr Gregory Butt said work carried out now would be like a 'sticking plaster'.

The crossing, in addition to a second set of stepping stones, upstream in the Middle Green, and still open, are regularly used unless the river is in spate.

Councillors heard that the stones at the Low Green crossing had dislodged following approved work to remove the remains of an old weir for safety reasons to the south of Airebank Terrace, downstream from the stepping stones. The work, carried out by Scapa Healthcare, was approved by North Yorkshire Council at the end of July, with no objections raised by the parish council.

In documents submitted with the application to North Yorkshire Council at the time, consultants for Scapa say how the weir suffered a 'major collapse' in February, 2022 following 'intensive rainfall and sustained high river water levels'.

As a result, debris from the weir 'littered' the section of river but with some sections of the weir remaining intact. It had then come to the notice of the company that children had been playing on the remaining parts of the weir which in the opinion of Scapa was a 'significant public safety issue' that needed to be 'resolved urgently due to the risk of injury'.

It stated work was 'critical to ensuring public safety for residents and visitors in the immediate and long term'.

The Environment Agency had no objection to the plan.

In a planning officer's report ahead of the scheme being approved, it states extensive pre-application discussions had taken place between the applicant and the Environment Agency regarding the 'necessary' work to the mill; it goes on to say the work would not give rise to any flood risk, or cause any visual harm.