Previously on PathWatch we reported on a lone bull in a field crossed by Colne Valley Footpath 102. Having no female company the bulls presence was contrary to section 59 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The issue has been dealt with swiftly and effectively by Kirklees and the bull moved to a field without public access. Thanks to the council for this 🙂
Currently Kirklees Council has 248 outstanding claims for modifications to the Definitive Map & Statement. Some 16 of these claims are subject to directions from the Secretary of State to get on with it (Kirklees largely ignore these directions). Kirklees has a legal duty to keep the Definitive Map up to date and is very much struggling to do so.
The number one case on the Priority List is a claim for a Footpath at Kilpin Hill, Heckmondwike. The claim was received in 1993! There are several claims from 1988! (The extinguishment order began life in 2021 for comparison)
Throughout 2021 and 2022 not one historical case from the Priority List has been put before either the Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee or the Heavy Woolen Planning Sub Committee.
How then does our beloved council have the officer time and resources to carry out a consultation and subsequently put a report to the Heavy Woolen Sub Committee (page 61) recommending making of an order to extinguish Denby Dale Footpath 82? Presumably the council also have resources available for a public inquiry too?
In the context of the amount of outstanding DMMO claims going back to the 1980’s, this report and recommendation is perverse and goes against the public interest. How can an extinguishment application take precedence over both the councils statutory duty to keep the definitive map up to date and the growing backlog of directions from the Secretary of State? I think we should be told.
Resources for definitive map work in Kirklees are not even the bare minimum to maintain the status quo let alone make headway on the 248 outstanding claims. Much of that resource appears to be tied up on diversions for developers with next to nothing going to committee which would reduce the outstanding claims.
It’s true to say that “Beware of the Bull” signs out number actual bulls in the English countryside. A surprise then to come across a bull in a field without any signs or the legally required female company.
Instead of Tinder bulls have section 59 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which requires them to have female company (cows/heifers) with them in any field crossed by a public right of way.
The bull may benefit from section 59 but the real reason for this clause is to protect ramblers from bulls. As well as cows and heifers bulls must be over 2 years old and not a dairy breed. The combination of age,females and being a beef breed usually keeps an equilibrium between bull/rambler. Rambers can enjoy a walk. Bulls can enjoy the female company.
At the time of writing there is a beef bull alone in a field crossed by Colne Valley Public Footpaths 102 and 103 at Grid Reference SE 074 151. Footpath 102 is part of the Colne Valley Circular Walk and we’re just into the school holidays.
Footpath 102 has featured on PathWatch before with the problem ladder stile.
Back in 2014 half a dozen members of the public reported locked gate obstructions on Batley Footpath 5. Some 8 years later and these obstructions remain in place. This is despite Kirklees Council serving s143 notices on the landowners responsible for the obstructions in 2018! Yes, you read that right 2018. We’re all for giving people plenty of time to remove obstructions but four years and counting?
The notices were obtained via a freedom of information request which Kirklees refused to answer for some 6 months. Legally,they should respond within 20 working days! It was only after the Information Commissioners Office became involved that the full sad tale of Batley 5 became apparent.
For whatever reasons the internal mechanisms within Kirklees which should kick in when a member of the public reports an obstruction do not seem to work (really?Ed).
Issues of enforcement are dealt with by a separate department from Prow and work is duplicated. Prow officers visit the site several times and this is repeated by enforcement officers when the matter is passed over for “enforcement action”. Some 6 Kirklees officers, 2 landowners, 1 Leeds officer, 1 third party solicitor, and 1 Highways Agency officer have been involved in the case. Land searches have been carried out, research into past side road orders which affect the path has been undertaken and extensive liaison with the neighboring authority of Leeds. The public of course pick up the substantial tab for all this.
The 4 obstructions are still there.
There is no overall management of enforcement cases and it seems all to easy for cases like this to disappear .
The council will now have to start the process again and incur some of the same costs a second time over.
Back in 2020 PathWatch reported briefly on some dodgy doings to the surface of Meltham Bridleway 50. In short the lovely and rightly popular bridleway had been dug up and poorly reinstated with large sized aggregate. Lots of users from all groups reported the matter as it was happening.
The Peak Park who are the planning authority visited the site and concluded that planning permission was needed for the works. Nothing has been heard from them since. Kirklees visited and did manage to halt any further work. That was the peak of their activity and interest.
So almost 2 years later and nothing has been done to put this bridleway back into a usable condition for the public to enjoy . Regular readers will recognise the pattern here. It goes like this. Damage or obstruction to a public right of way. Flurry of complaints from the public. Visits from numerous council staff (and in this case the national park). Then nothing.
PathWatch will be back in 2 years with a further update. Probably a cut and paste job.
Marsden Moor is the tinder box of the South Pennines and regularly goes up in flames for a whole host of reasons. Many of these are historical – woodland clearance, pollution from the industrial revolution and over grazing. Add in a bit of global warming and we’ve the perfect storm of neglect just waiting for a disposable barbie, tab end or some fool from Huddersfield with a firework.
As a result of these regular moorland fires the whole area is covered by Public Space Protection Orders banning campfires, barbies etc. A very sensible move which should be strictly enforced at all times. Ongoing education of the public is arguably more important for the long term future of the moor.
This week has seen an unprecedented fire risk in the Peak District and the National Park Authority have closed all Crow Act access land. They have reportedly advised the National Trust Marsden Moor estate to close all access land on Trust property and this was announced yesterday on social media.
There is a but coming and it’s an important one because it shows a lack of understanding of the basis for public access to Marsden Moor from both the Peak Park and National Trust. The implication of this is that both these organisations are relying on closure of the moor in extreme conditions when they cannot in fact do this. How then are they managing the fire risks ?
Marsden Moor is what is known as section 15 land and it cannot be closed under the mechanisms of the Crow Act which is what the Peak Park have advised! Section 15 land predates the crow act and recognises long standing public rights. Marsden Moor is an urban common and cannot be closed. How can the Peak Park and National Trust not know or choose to ignore this?
From Foot & Mouth through to Covid the knee jerk reaction of authority is to close the countryside to walkers. No one having a quiet walk on Marsden Moor is a fire risk but the public must be stopped!
Much of what organisations like the Peak Park, Nationl Trust or Kirklees put out for public consumption via social media is not based in reality. The sweeping closure of Marsden Moor yesterday was fake. It distracted from the real fire risks that do exist and sought to ban putting one foot in front of the other on the moor without any basis in either law or evidence.
The Peak District National Park has announced the closure of public access land in the park due to the high fire risk. This follows the regular extensive closures on mostly grouse shooting estates in the spring. The average rambler may be beginning to wonder just what the value of the so called right to roam is.
Most of the Peak District is covered by Public Space Protection Orders which ban barbecues, stoves,fires and any naked flames. It’s worth noting that public access land does not permit these activities anyway. Walking would appear to be a zero risk activity in comparison.
There is no explanation from the Park of the fire risks created by walkers. Perhaps they think ramblers still wear hob nailed boots and that there’s a risk of sparks on speeds over 3 mph or on rocky ground?
One of the most characteristic features of the Peak District moorlands is that…er…well…it’s all been burnt already! These moors are euphemistically called “managed” and are used for grouse shooting. The moorland arsonists will tell you that one of the benefits of a “managed” moor (which is deliberately and extensively burnt) is a reduced fire risk! I kid you not.
Kirklees are currently consulting on the proposed diversion of Spen Footpath 24 in relation to this planning application. The planning application (for a rather large Amazon distribution centre) has yet to be approved. Kirklees are advertising this consultation under s257 of the Town & Country Planning Act. This section is for orders where a planning application has been approved. In fact orders for diversions ahead of full planning permissions being granted ought to be under s257 (1A). The impression this consultation gives is that the development is approved and it is not. Details of the consultation should be here
Needless to say it’s a dog’s dinner and something you’d probably never want to walk down. For further information the Save Our Spen is a must visit.
Things can always get worse. It seems Barry Sheerman’s exit at the next election opens the door to our comedy council leader Shabir Pandor to make a play for the coveted safe labour seat. Come back Barry! All is forgiven!
In typically modest form the current council leader promises us the same energy and enthusiasm he has put into delivering success in Kirklees for the past 20 years.