Council to tear up historic cobbles
Published 10/01/2013 | 10:45
A historic Yorkshire marketplace will have its cobbles ripped up and replaced with modern block paving after they were deemed unsuitable for disabled people.
East Riding Council said the traditional stones in Beverley's Saturday Market could "cause problems for visitors and residents with disabilities", and has ordered crews to dig them up next week.
English Heritage has strongly advised against the plan and urged the council to keep the cobbles, which historians believe are at least 175 years old and probably date back to the 1700s.
The conservation body said the traditional surface is "important to the historic character" of the market town, which is popular with day-trippers and tourists.
Residents have held 500-strong marches through the market square and presented petitions containing almost 1,000 names in a bid to halt the work.
However, town hall bosses said work will go ahead after they consulted community groups, including members of a disability advisory group, which were in favour of removing the stones.
History Professor Barbara English, of Beverley Civic Society, said it was a "hugely disappointing" and short-sighted decision in the face of "an overwhelming amount of opposition".
"This will destroy the town's historic atmosphere," she said. "Saturday Market, which is surrounded by listed buildings, is the absolute core of the town. This and the minster are what people associate with Beverley."
Prof English said historic records show the stones were in situ in 1829 and may well be from the 1700s. But the council says many of the cobbles - or setts - were replaced or restored when they were uncovered from beneath a layer of tarmac in the 1980s.
Nigel Leighton, director of environment and neighbourhood services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said the cobbles "can cause problems for less able-bodied people or those using wheelchairs and prams". He added: "The proposed scheme is a good compromise of all the feedback received by the council from groups and individuals who represent a broad cross-section of Beverley's 30,000 population."