A 75ft maypole that stood in the Yorkshire town of Otley for at least 50 years has been cut down – partly because of the Tour de France. Believed to be the tallest permanent maypole in Britain, it was removed without warning to the horror of local people.
Safety experts cut down the pole after an assessment — ordered because the Tour de France will pass by next week — found that it was rotten.
But local councillors in the town, which is within Leeds metropolitan borough, complained its sudden removal had left some local people “quite upset”. Ryk Downes, a councillor, told The Daily Telegraph: “To bring the maypole down was the right call.
“However to do it this way, with no consultation or planning is a disgrace. What would have been a tourist attraction, helping put Otley on the map and in the minds of tourists from around the world at the Grand Depart [of the Tour] is now nothing more than a shaved stump.”
Mark Dobson, an executive board member at Leeds city council, said that “extensive decay” had been found at the base of the maypole, saying that it had “posed a serious risk to members of the public in what is a busy area of Otley”.
“It was simply not acceptable to put the public at risk by delaying action to deal with that situation,” he said.
Local historian Paul Wood said a maypole could have stood in Otley since 1660.
A photograph from 1906 shows a maypole towering over four-storey buildings nearby. The recently removed maypole was put up in Manchester Square in 1962.
Mr Wood said people had not danced round the maypole for some time partly due to increased road traffic.