Holmfirth Footpath 105 has pinned it’s political colours to it’s roadside signpost ahead of Thursday’s local elections.
For decades the Holme Valley has had 3 tory councillors. Two years ago we elected a labour councillor who was actually in the same century as the rest of us rather than a couple behind. Councillor Davies has undoubtedly had a positive effect on improving rights of way in the valley and getting the subject on the agenda in a way that hasn’t happened here for donkey’s years.
The Experimental Traffic Order on Hudddersfield Byway 170/10 is now live and the swanky new yellow gate is being closed overnight, supposedly to stop anti social behaviour.
This gate must easily be the most expensive thing on hinges on any Kirklees public right of way. It cost an eye watering £21,407 ! The costs can be found on the council’s contracts register .
In addition the costs involved with the Traffic Regulation Order are some £5,472. The council is being coy about the costs of employing the security firm Admiral to open and close the gate saying these have been “absorbed” into an existing contract.
There’s a couple of footbridges, many miles of strimming or signposts or path improvements for this kind of money. The council continually pleads a lack of resources for positive public rights of way work but happily visits the magic money tree to close a route to the most popular and widely enjoyed land mark in Kirklees. Surely there’s a better way?
Some 5 days after the consultation closed on this proposal all the information is finally available on the Kirklees website . There’s been no fanfare of publicity around this and the fact that the deadline has been quietly extended until 24th May 2021 may have gone unnoticed.
The whole process to date has been an amateurish omni-cockup worthy of a prize if there was one going for this kind of thing.
However, whilst this is far from the solution to the 4×4 and motorbike problem in the area it does contain some good things. For instance there is no access for vehicles between 1st November to 31st March without the council’s approval. No more than 32 vehicle movements a week. No access in snow or heavy rain.
The available access will be via Glass outside of winter and if the restrictions do come into force reporting of any misbehaviour with evidence will be vital in getting restrictions tightened.
Council officers claim the PSPO is a delegated Officer decision yet there is no record of any such decision being made on the council’s register of delegated decisions . Under its own constitution the authority is obliged to keep such a record and it is a criminal offence under the openness in local government regulations not to do so. We’ve been here before of course. There’s no record of the officer decision to rescind the 2018 Traffic Regulation Order on Ramsden Road either.
At the Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee on 21 April 2021 councillors voted in favour of making a modification order to the Definitive Map & Statement. The effect of the order, if confirmed, will change the width of Footpath 60 from 1.2m to between 3m and 4m.
The application came about as a result of Footpath 60 being significantly narrowed from the historical (but unrecorded) used width of 3m to 4m down to the 1.2m recorded in the current Statement. The image above illustrates the situation.
The officer report contains a useful summary and explanation of the evidence. In short there is much contemporary user evidence for the greater width which is supported by historical documents from the Inclosure Awards of 1829, successive Ordnance Survey editions, aerial photographs and today’s Google maps. The decision can be viewed here
This case is also the first public appearance of the West Riding Memo which was used to demonstrate the deliberate under recording of path widths by the local authority 70 years ago.
As so often happens with Kirklees a cock up was waiting around the corner to make things a little more interesting. As one of the links to the live streamed committee meeting didn’t work the matter will return to a future committee for reaffirmation.
The above plan shows a development site off Kenmore View, Cleckheaton. For the development to go ahead the public paths shown by solid black lines will be closed and the rather less direct dashed lines will be newly created paths. The consultation plan looks something like an entry into the Turner prize in this context. The Google screenshot below gives a little more focus showing the green nature of the site deep in the urban jungle of Cleckheaton. The bulldozers have already been there by the look of it.
An area of green space containing informal paths is priceless in an area like this. The many local objections and claims to have these paths put on the Definitive Map give an indication of local feelings. Sadly, it looks like the direct original paths will be swept away before ever being recorded to be replaced by those meandering dashes going nowhere around buildings.
Links to the plan and reason statement are below. Details of the proposal should be on the council’s website here
The West Riding Memo is the Original Sin of public rights of way management in this area. You can trace this early fitties fiddle through a long lineage of dodgy deals, nods & winks and theft of public access rights through to the 2020’s comedy calamities often featured on PathWatch. The laws and regulations surrounding public rights of way are only as good as those that administer them.
One of the effects of this swindle is the chronic lack of bridleways in the area. Rye Close Lane is recorded on the current Definitive Map and Statement as a 4 foot wide public footpath. Yet the original surveys record a RUPP (road used as public path) up to 12 feet wide. The surveys also record that part of the route was awarded in the Holme Inclosure Award as a road. The surveys were carried out by Holmfirth Urban District Council and are shown below.
That the route ended up on the Definitive Map and Statement as a 4 foot wide footpath would be something of a mystery but for the existence of a number of memos, including the West Riding Memo. It’s clear that the highway authority at the time was concerned at the potential maintenance liability of 12 foot wide bridleways and footpaths. It clearly bent the law to avoid this liability.
The document below shows an objection from Holmfirth Urban District Council to the inclusion of the route as a bridleway on the Definitive Map And Statement. It’s objecting to what it’s own surveyors have discovered! Without any explanatory remarks or evidence the route is downgraded to footpath and the width from 12 feet to 4 feet.
The closure plan for Yateholme/Ramsden Road. Only available on PathWatch.
Some 2 weeks into a controversial consultation for a public space protection order banning some vehicles from the Yateholme and Ramsden Road areas the Kirklees website still does not show either the draft order or plan which is being consulted on.
PathWatch made some enquiries and obtained the DRAFT PUBLISHED ORDER but no plan. It seemed no one at Kirklees knew where the plan was or that the order and plan were not available to public inspection on the website. However, it has turned up and PathWatch is more than happy to help out the hapless bureaucrats. Download the plan here TF.18.200.287 Ramsden Road, Holmbridge-Plan You’re welcome.
Below is the draft Public Space Protection Order for the Yateholme Lanes and Ramsden Road. The named officer in the newspaper ad for the order who’s telephone number and email address is given as a contact is “away from the office”. There is no copy of the order and plan at the link given in the formal advertisement. Although a copy of the order has been obtained from Kirklees the plan which goes with the order has not been supplied and the exclusion area is not identifiable. Regular readers will recall that Kirklees refused to engage with interested parties informally prior to the draft order as per government guidelines. There have been few, if any, checks and balances on Kirklees managers, and no democratic oversight from councillors throughout this process.
THE COUNCIL OF THE BOROUGH OF KIRKLEES
ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, CRIME AND POLICING ACT 2014, SECTIONS 59
THE COUNCIL OF THE BOROUGH OF KIRKLEES (Yateholme) (HIGHWAY ACCESS) PUBLIC SPACE PROTECTION ORDER 2021
This Order is made by the Council of the Borough of Kirklees (“the Council”) under Section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“the Act”).
1. This Order relates to the places described in the Schedule below and defined by red colouring on the plan attached to this Order (“the Restricted Area”), being public places in the Council’s area to which the Act applies.
2. The Council is satisfied that the two conditions below have been met, in that:-
a) activities carried on in the Restricted Area, as described below, have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, or it is likely that these activities will be carried on in the public place and that they will have such an effect, the said activities being unrestricted vehicular access
b) that the effect, or likely effect, of the activities described above –
(i) is, or is likely to be, of a persistent or continuing nature
(ii) is, or is likely to be, such as to make the activities unreasonable, and
(iii) justifies the restrictions imposed by this Order.
3. The effect of this Order is to impose the following requirement at all times namely that the public right of way over the highways referred to in the Schedule to this Order shall be restricted by the installation operation and maintenance of barriers.
4. The restriction imposed by paragraph 3 of this Order shall not:-
(i) restrict the public right of way over a highway in the Restricted Area for the occupiers of premises adjoining or adjacent to the highway
(ii) restrict the public right of way over a highway that is the only or principal means of access to a dwelling.
(iii) restrict access for licence holders
5. The Order will remain in force for a period of 3 years from the date of this Order, unless extended by further Orders under the Council’s statutory powers.
6. Any person who fails without reasonable excuse to comply with a requirement imposed upon him by this Order commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale or may be issued with a fixed penalty notice by an authorised person requiring payment of a sum not exceeding £100.
Any person who propels a vehicle within the definition of Mechanically Propelled Vehicle in section 185 Road Traffic Act 1988 or s136 Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 unless such vehicle is listed within the exclusion below in the Restricted Area unless duly authorised by licence
The routes and point closures as shown marked red on the attached plan
being that part of Brownhill Lane, Holmfirth – at a point 5 metres south of the access to the public car park by Ramsden Reservoir.
Ramsden Road, Holmfirth – at a point 140 metres north-west of its junction with White Gate Road
Rake Head Road, Holme Moss – at a point 15 metres east of its junction with the A6024 Woodhead Road
Old Gate, Holme Moss – at a point 13 metres north-east of its junction with the A6024 Woodhead Road.
Two wheeled motorised vehicles
GIVEN under the Corporate Common Seal of the Council of the Borough of Kirklees this [ ] day of [ ] Two Thousand and Twenty One
THE CORPORATE COMMON SEAL of )
THE COUNCIL OF THE BOROUGH OF )
KIRKLEES was hereunto affixed )
in the presence of:- )
Service Director – Legal, Governance and Commissioning/Authorised Signatory
In a pleasing hint that perhaps our local bureaucrats do have a cheeky sense of humour the public space protection order for Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes was appropriately advertised in the local press on April Fools Day . Having spent the past 2 years telling us Ramsden Road must be open for all users all the time our hapless council have now double crossed all those who believed they actually meant that. A large swath of off roaders will be labeled anti social and banned from the lanes if they do not join the Green Lane Association for a ticket. All those locked out will no doubt be happy to oblige the trashing of vulnerable countryside elsewhere in the Holme Valley.
The answer to the green laning problem in the Holme Valley area is to put Traffic Regulation Orders prohibiting motor vehicles on all the lanes.
PathWatch will come back to the order in a future post. For now savour the extra half mile of hole the council has just dug itself into and the rich display of contempt council officers have heaped on residents and walkers in the area by completely ignoring their reasonable requests for engagement in favour of some 4×4 drivers. They must be an award for this kind of thing.
The newspaper advert provides a link to the order and plans on the council website. In true Kirklees form there’s nothing there! Perhaps it is an April Fool after all? (Probably the best hope for our local environment with these jokers.Ed.)