THERE’S been a mill by the River Aire at Knottingley for hundreds of years (many will still remember the broken waterwheel in the old millrace).
People always had access to the mill in order to take their corn to grind or to purchase flour. The even older, adjoining path between Ferrybridge farms and Knottingley dock was thereby appropriated.
Later, the 18th century opening of the Knottingley canal alongside the mill, provided an alternative towpath route connecting the two villages.
So over the years the ‘millyard way’ got used mainly for mill business yet still encroaching upon the original public path.
I could well understand how today’s owners, trampling on yesterday’s tradition, might feel that to maintain our ancient and now somewhat obselete right of way through their noisy yard is an unnecessary insurance burden, but I have to object most strongly to the insulting reasons they give for wishing to reroute the path.
Wakefield Council’s footpath officer cites health and safety as a reason for the move in a letter he wrote to me.
The letter also said: “Additionally, as a manufacturer for the food industry, strict hygiene standards are required for the site and these include ensuring the absence of smoking and litter. Neither of these things can be guaranteed while the public has access through the site.”
He also said there had been ‘a number of incidents of theft and vandalism’.
Indeed, in short, ADM Milling seem to be saying that ‘we locals’ are unhygienic, thieving, vandals.
JOHN B WALTERS