Councillor claims ‘great unwashed’ spoiling Dales’ beauty spots

Malham Cove. Photo: Andy Rothwell/Flickr.

A Tory councillor says the “great unwashed” are spoiling beauty spots like Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Malham Cove by leaving trash for locals to clean up.

Cllr David Staveley, who represents Settle and Pen-y-ghent, was speaking at a meeting of Skipton & Ripon councillors yesterday when he brought up the impact overtourism is having on some of the region’s most picturesque locations.

The summer season is set to bring an influx of people looking to enjoy North Yorkshire and the Dales but Cllr Staveley criticised some of their behaviour.

He said: “They aren’t behaving very well. Some people don’t know how to appreciate what we have in a way that’s acceptable to those who live here and pay a price to live here.”

Cllr Staveley said he was sent a picture of a skip “filled to the brim” with litter that had been collected by a local vicar with help from volunteers.

He even claimed some residents in Horton, a village in the shadow of Penyghent, leave their homes at weekends to avoid tourists as they are “blighted” by issues like congested roads and litter.

His comments provoked shock from hotelier and Liberal Democrat councillor for Masham, Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, who suggested the term “great unwashed” to describe people who support local businesses was unhelpful.

She said North Yorkshire Council can address the problem of litter by putting bins in the right places.


Cllr David Staveley.


Cllr Richard Foster, who represents Wharfedale for the Conservatives, said Grassington had become hugely popular with American tourists in recent years looking to sample the All Creatures Great and Small experience.

But he said the town’s popularity has seen some businesses increasing their prices which means the locals can’t afford to buy a coffee or a pint.

Ripon has two rivers and a canal which led councillor Andrew Williams to joke the city “has no difficulty welcoming the great unwashed or washed”. He said the only issue it has with tourists is on race days when Ripon is flooded with coaches.

Cllr Robert Heseltine (Conservative and Independents Group, Skipton East & South) lamented the changes in society whilst harking back to simpler times. He said: “One advantage of being elderly is I can think back to the 1960s when society went downhill with edicts about mods and rockers. They were termed long-haired louts.

“I don’t think there are many unwashed about, but certainly there are people who don’t keep to reasonable standards.”


  1. Yes bins in right places but also notices informing of increased fines for ‘litter louts’ a much more apt’ term.

  2. Get a grip what a ridiculous comment from a Councillor, this is a Society issue brought about by lack of personal discipline and Policing, visit Aysgarth Falls after a Visitors Weekend and view first hand how we have allowed standards to slip!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.