Council's cobble wobble: People power delays removal of stone setts in Beverley's Saturday Market
PEOPLE power has forced a delay in the removal of cobbles from the centre of Beverley.
Hundreds of people marched on County Hall yesterday brandishing placards and chanting "Save Our Setts".
They had been told East Riding Council's £2.5m revamp of Beverley's Saturday Market would begin on Monday with no further consultation on whether the cobble setts should be removed.
But in a last-minute addition to yesterday's full council agenda, council leader Councillor Stephen Parnaby was asked about retaining the stones.
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His reply included a revelation the removal of the setts would be held back to allow more talks.
Mr Parnaby said: "It has always been the intention to retain any materials from the scheme such as setts, kerbs, etc, for use elsewhere in Beverley to enhance its historic approach.
"I will ask officers to undertake a feasibility study into the potential future use of these setts in the minster area which I believe was also suggested by members of the Civic Society.
"I have also instructed officers to re-phase the scheme with works to the setts now scheduled in the latter part of the project to allow further discussions with stakeholders. A revised timetable will be published shortly."
The offer of further discussion with stakeholders is a softening of the council's approach from December.
Nigel Leighton, director of environment and neighbourhood services at East Riding Council, said on December 14 the only consultation left to do was on the phasing of the work, not on the setts' future.
Before yesterday's meeting, Beverley Civic Society member Professor Barbara English said she would welcome any delay in the removal of the setts.
Prof English said: "If they are going to reschedule it, we would regard that as a partial victory."
The concession may come as some surprise to the Civic Society and other campaigners who held sit-down talks with Mr Leighton on Monday but came away believing nothing had been achieved.
Responding to the possible threat of further disruptive protests, the council told campaigners it was prepared to work out-of-hours to remove the cobbles.
Prof English said: "We took that as a threat but they said it hadn't been meant that way.
"I firmly believe the setts should be retained. I have spoken to the engineer who said it would be perfectly possible to relay the setts."
While some of the protesters were retired, the group outside County Hall yesterday included people from different generations.
Dan Naylor, 22, of North Bar Without, said: "I've just graduated. I did archaeology at university and we did town planning.
"I'd like to see something that's done aesthetically well and also something that works. In 20 years' time, it won't be the cost of the work that's remembered, it will be the quality of the job."
Max Machen, 21, of Thurstan Road, Beverley, said: "When I was little, I remember being pushed along the setts in my buggy. It's never done me any harm.
"The setts add to the character of the town."
Patrick Bromwich, 49, of Inglefield Close, Beverley, had spent the morning contacting friends and neighbours, asking them to attend the rally.
He said: "You don't go to somewhere like the Shambles in York and say 'this is alright but it's a bit old-fashioned'.
"People see Beverley as a quaint place and having the stone setts is something unique.
"They're also practical. They slow down the traffic."
Visit http://beverleyaction.com/about for more on the campaign.