This is a funny one. If you look at the image above you can see an ordinary farm gate behind the new security gate. The farm gate is on Holmfirth Footpath 131 and when Kirklees discovered the farm gate was being chained and locked rather than deal with the issue head on as per their statutory obligations to “assert and protect” public rights they decided to allow the gate to remain locked. This is pretty normal practice here.
There is a third gate in the photograph which was put in off the line of the public footpath to supposedly allow public access. Can you see it? No,most people don’t.
Not content with one locked gate denying public access a second locked security gate has been erected to further deny public access. Who can blame the landowner? Having established the precedent of it being ok to put a locked gate on a public path what could possibly be the problem with a second one?
Now this is the funny bit. Both gates have been reported to Kirklees and I have been advised that only one of them is actually on the public footpath – the farm gate. The new security gate is in fact in the highway verge, owned by Kirklees of course but dealt with by a different department containing exactly the same staff!!
Things began to feel a little surreal and I felt I’d slipped into a Monty Python sketch…..
Good Morning Sir! I’m Barry Bureaucrat Department of Dodgy Gates, Greater Python Council. How can I be of assistance?
Well I’d like to report a locked gate on local footpath please Barry.
Oh yes very good sir. Now what kinda gate we talking about here? Field Gate? Pedestrian Gate? Kissing Gate,nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean sir? Or maybe a fabled Norwegian Blue Gate sir? Got a load of Spanish Inquisition gates out the back. Nobody wants them! We cover most requirements here!
Well Barry it’s just a normal farm gate with a padlock here on Holmfirth Footpath 131.
Oohh dear I can’t help you with that one sir. Blimey no way! There’d be a Spanish Inquisition.Nooobody wants that!
Sorry to hear that Barry. What’s the problem?
Ah well you see sir we kinda said it was, well you know, ok to put a lock and chain on there and that we’d turn a blind eye to it. If you know what I mean. Nudge nudge wink wink eh? Know what I mean?
Oh not sure I do Barry .What about public access ?
Thought of that one sir and we put a narrow little gate in that you can hardly see just down one side. Was left over from another bodged job somewhere. Once you find it just squeeze through there and your on your way,if you know what I mean. Streets ahead aren’t we? It’s a proper little free range gate that one. Don’t belong to us ‘cos it’s not on the path see? Clever init? Know what I mean?
Oh that’s a shame. Perhaps I can report another gate then?
Of course sir! Be only to delighted to help you with your little problem. Nudge nudge wink wink eh?
Well Barry it’s this big fuck off security gate immediately in front of the locked farmers gate you say you can’t do anything about. Can you help remove this one?
Oooh no way sir. Absolute no no that one!!! Completely outside of my remit that! Different department altogether.If you know what I mean.
You mean there’s more than one Dodgy Gate Department at Greater Pyton Council?
Of course sir! It’s a very complex technical area these gates are! The Council’s taken a view to invest heavily in Dodgy Gate Departments because of all the …er …well dodgy locked gates we lets anybody put up on public footpaths. Nudge nudge eh? Know what I mean?
I see. So which department do I need to visit.
Oh I can help you there sir! Soon sort your little problem out! Nudge nudge eh? Know what I mean? You need the Department of Dodgy Gates in the Highways Verge sir! Specialists they are! Go up to floor x and it’s the last office on the right.
Oh ok. Thanks for your “help” Barry.
After a long haul up the stairs I arrived at floor x and the last office on the right “Department of Dodgy Gates.Highways verges. I rang the bell.
Good morning sir!Barry Bureaucrat Department of Dodgy Gates Highways verges Greater Python Council. How can I help you ? Know what I mean? Eh?
Based on a true story as they say.