OTLEY'S residents and businesses have been praised for the 'shining community spirit' they showed during recent storms.

Riverside homes in the town narrowly avoided flooding when the River Wharfe burst its banks during Storm Ciara on Sunday, February 9.

The flood water did cause major problems, closing Otley Bridge and some roads for several hours, but properties stayed safe in part due to the efforts of the volunteer-run Otley Flood Response Team.

The team, who helped distribute sandbags to at-risk homes, was out in action again last weekend as Storm Dennis brought more rain and strong winds. Thankfully, the river did not rise as high this time and there was significantly less disruption.

The Otley Flood Response Team has thanked everyone who assisted in the relief effort during both events - and is also calling on the Government to make implementing flood defences a 'top priority'.

A spokesperson said: "Otley's community spirit shone through once again when storms Ciara and Dennis hit the town and the River Wharfe threatened to flood homes.

"Our volunteers were contacted by concerned residents after flood warnings were issued on Sunday, February 9. A post on social media calling for extra volunteers received a great response from the community and with the help of B&TS who opened to provide sand, sandbags and transport, they were able to work alongside council workers and police to ensure that sandbags were taken to the homes at risk.

"Although flooding did force the closure of some roads in town, the damage looks to have been isolated to gardens and outbuildings rather than homes as was first feared.

"The arrival of Storm Dennis a week later saw another fantastic response from the community.

"This time residents already had a stock of sandbags but with Dennis predicted to be worse than Ciara in some parts it was felt more were needed, so again, alongside B&TS and Leeds City Council, more sandbags were filled on Saturday, February 15.

"The team, along with transport from Jamie Osbourne and a strong group of residents, moved the additional sandbags into place to ensure that all had been done to prepare for the storm to hit overnight."

The team has also expressed thanks to Otley Lions Club for donating £500 to support its efforts.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) has also publicly thanked everyone who helped. He said: "The response team, along with a number of local people, pulled out all the stops and managed to limit any damage.

"These extreme weather events, made worse by global warming, emphasise the need to complete the Otley Flood Relief scheme as soon as possible and we will be meeting with planners next week to urge progress."

A £3.3 million flood alleviation scheme is in the pipeline for Otley but is still at the planning application stage.

MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) called last week on the Government, Environment Agency and Leeds City Council to ensure the project is completed this year.