Previously on PathWatch we reported on the astonishing claim made by Councillor Rob Walker (Kirklees Cabinet Member for Environment) that the Council has a 91% Success Rate in removing public rights of way obstructions. A claim that needed it’s surface scratching to see what’s underneath if ever there was one.
So via the Freedom of Information Act PathWatch asked our slippery bureaucrats a simple starter for 10 question.
At Kirklees Cabinet on 2nd June 2020 Cllr Robert Walker claimed that of 114 prow obstructions reported to Kirklees since 2017 a total of 104 had been successfully resolved. Please provide me with information you hold that substantiates this claim. Please identify the path numbers, locations and nature of obstructions and what action was taken.
Any reasonable person might expect to receive a copy of some very straight forward data. Perhaps a print out from the councils database showing the 114 reported obstructions identified by their path number, a location and the nature of the obstruction. There could even be a handy column in this print out highlighting the 104 paths where obstructions had been removed. How hard can it be path pickers?
Here is the Councils waffling,vague, Johnsonesque reply.
Cllr Walker’s response of 2 June 2020 was provided following a discussion between the Greenspace Environmental Action Manager and the Greenspace Operational Manager, which included considering a spreadsheet of requests from one specific organisation and various other records of PROW issue reports to the Council.
The text of the response was sent to the Strategic Director on 28 May and forwarded to Cllr Walker that same day.
The Council does not hold a breakdown of the figures given.
So the Council holds no breakdown of the figures? How then has it come to the conclusion that out of 114 obstructions reported 104 have been resolved? It would seem the council are making a claim and have not or cannot provide any hard data to substantiate it.
The way this has been dealt with displays the usual contempt for the public. It would also seem that council staff, including a Strategic Director and several managers, are more than happy to provide a Kirklees Cabinet member with information for public consumption that they cannot explain or substantiate in any meaningful way.
The iniquitous effect of the answer provided by Councillor Walker at Cabinet on June 2nd is one of positivity and a high level of performance in keeping public rights of way obstruction free in Kirklees. The truth is somewhere at the other end of the spectrum.