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Green Party co-leader visits Ilkley

The Green Party co-leader visited Bradford District to discuss river pollution issues with local campaigners.

Carla Denyer, the Green Party co-leader visited Ilkley to meet with campaigners and Green Party Town Councillor Ros Brown.

Carla Denyer and Ros Brown talking to each other on the banks of the River Whatfe. There are a lot of trees on both sides of the river and a small suspension bridge in the background.Earlier this year, the Environment Agency gave the River Wharfe at Ilkley a water quality rating of “poor” – the only bathing site in Yorkshire to fail to reach quality standards.

Tests by the Environment Agency revealed a variety of bacteria sources impacting water quality had been found in the river, including human and animal DNA.

Ros said, “Water pollution along the Wharfe is a big issue to the people of Ilkley and I know many people are worried by just how bad the water quality is – especially at the parts which are most popular during the summer months.

Data from the Clean River campaign showed that last year Yorkshire Water discharged sewage and household waste water into the river at Ilkley on 146 days of the year (2). That is absolutely appalling.

"Improving the water quality and dealing with the range of anti-social behaviours seen during busy periods would make the riverside area much safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Volunteers give many hours to caring for the riverside and wardens and the police do their best in the area but they are severely under resourced.

In May’s Bradford Council elections, Ros came second in Ilkley Ward – less than 100 votes behind the Conservative candidate.

Carla said, “The fact our water companies, like Yorkshire Water, are run by private companies means one of our most basic utilities is being run as a money making enterprise rather than a public service. The government has relaxed regulations to the point of non-existence meaning that the UK has some of the worst water quality in Europe.

“Instead of doing something to fix this problem, the current government seems to be rewarding them by continuing to allow them to pay out millions in profits to shareholders and pay their executives obscene bonuses. And to make matters worse, the so called ‘Brexit Freedom Bill’ will roll back environmental protections even more.”

At the Full Council meeting on Tuesday 11th October, Greens drew attention to the damage river pollution is doing to River Wharfe.

Councillor Matt Edwards, the leader of the Green Group on Bradford Council said,

“There are many reasons impacting the ability of residents and visitors to enjoy the riverside area in Ilkley. The Conservatives on Bradford Council have tried to make this about anti-social behaviour on the banks of the Wharfe but this is only part of the problem.

“We know there are issues with anti-social behaviour in Ilkley during summer months. But the reality is that the policies of austerity inflicted on the police force and councils like Bradford have meant that there are just not enough resources to do everything that needs doing.

“Conservative councillors are trying to suggest that we can just wave a magic wand and all of a sudden extra funding for new wardens and police officers will appear and that is clearly just not the case. The current levels of inflation and the lack of additional funding from central government mean Bradford Council is probably going to be looking at what else it can cut back on – and the blame for that lies squarely with the Conservative Government.”