Eleven weeks after I first brought the blatant obstruction of Holmfirth Footpath 188 to the attention of Yorkshire Water and subsequently Kirklees Council the issue has been resolved!
As suggested in my original post all that was needed was some new hinges and a sneck to get the old gate working again. Incredible that someone would go to the lengths they did to block the path with boulders and drag their feet when politely asked to put it right. Several Yorkshire Water staff were involved in requesting the removal of the obstruction on a number of occasions and I understand two members of staff attended a site visit with the tenant. I know at least one visit was made to the site by a member of staff from Kirklees Council. In addition time has been spent liaising with Yorkshire Water and directly with the tenant responsible for the illegal obstruction.
It’s worth pondering –
- Obstructing a public footpath is illegal
- Yorkshire Water’s costs are paid for from everyone’s water rates
- Kirklees Council is in dire financial straights
- The taxpayer funds Kirklees Councils costs on this matter
- The tenant is subsidised via cap payments by the taxpayer
- The public are paying for everything here but have been denied access along the public path.
My initial reports to Kirklees Council were ignored so on 28th August 2017 I served a Section 130a notice and it was only after this that my reports were taken seriously and acted upon. From experience I find that if an obstruction makes it to 6 months it becomes part of the status quo and council managers will try to explain it away and justify it’s presence rather than get on and shift it. So maybe after receiving a few “unique” reference numbers but no action Section 130a is the answer?
The issue has also been passed onto the Rural Payments Agency and I’ve had a very encouraging response from their office.
It is Kirklees Council’s policy to refer incidents such as this to the RPA and it would be a powerful deterrent to landowners obstructing public rights of way if it was used. I don’t believe it ever has been in Kirklees despite many opportunities. The Council could save a lot of money if it took this option on reported obstructions. I’d suggest that noone in receipt of CAP payments would block a public right of way if they seriously thought Kirklees would inform the RPA and a full land inspection was on the cards.