The latest newsletter from Peak District Green Lane Alliance highlights many problems caused by vehicular access to unsealed byways & roads. Even when repaired the techniques used are often aesthetically incompatible with the countryside.
This little section of public footpath in North Yorkshire has an article in the Darlington & Stockton Times and a petition to it’s name with almost 3,000 signatures. What has brought Old Lane out of 800 odd years of quiet public use and relative obscurity into the public limelight?
It’s the same old PathWatch story of obstruction of long established public rights and the abject failure of the local Highway Authority (North Yorkshire County Council) to enforce those rights in a timely manner.
In the case of Old Lane, which is 5 metres wide, a section of fence has been erected (see above photo) narrowing the available width to about a metre. Subsequently a planning application has been submitted to the District Council for a kitchen extension which would encroach onto the footpath.
North Yorkshire CC were made aware of the obstructing fencing at an early stage on 23rd March 2021. They sent a warning letter to the owner/occupier on 7th May 2021 asking for the fence to be removed and the full 5 metre width of Old Lane made available. The letter is shown below.
So, they got off to a reasonable start in asking nicely for the obstruction to be removed by June 2021. However, the fence is still there. To all intents this letter is a bluff and no section 143 notice has been served on the obstruction as outlined in the warning letter.
This is such a typical situation and is repeated by local Highway Authorities all over England. Have a nice run out from the office, take a few photos, send a warning letter and then……nothing.
The latest update from NYCC is quoted below.
We will continue to engage within the person responsible for the fence to reach a satisfactory conclusion to this issue without having to resort to enforcement action. However if such an agreement cannot be reached in a reasonable timescale the County Council will consider legal action to remove the fence. However, such action will have to be prioritised against other ongoing public rights of way enforcement cases elsewhere in the County so at present it is not possible to give an indication of when enforcement action would be undertaken in this case.
Again pretty typical back peddling. What is there to engage about. Get the fence shifted!
Part of the consultation on the Glover Landscapes Review (questions 14 to 17) concern the possibility of additional restrictions on motor vehicle use on so called “green lanes”. Think of the atrocious damage to Ramsden Road and other local unsealed highways. The countryside would be a much better place with public motor vehicles legislated out of existence on these routes. The consultation provides a once in a lifetime chance to get across to the government the damage and nuisance these vehicles cause. The questions are cut and pasted below for information.
The survey itself is here Dead line 9th April 2022. You know what to do 🙂
14.Should we give National Park Authorities and the Broads Authority and local
highway authorities additional powers to restrict recreational motor vehicle use on
unsealed routes? YES/NO/UNSURE
15.For which reasons should National Park Authorities, the Broads Authority and local
authorities exercise this power?
• Environmental protection
• Prevention of damage
• Other [PLEASE STATE]
16.Should we legislate to restrict the use of motor vehicles on unsealed unclassified
roads for recreational use, subject to appropriate exemptions? Yes – everywhere/
Yes – in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty only/Yes – in
National Parks only/No/Unsure
17.What exemptions do you think would be required to protect the rights and
enjoyment of other users e.g., residents, businesses etc?
There have been increasing problems of obstruction and surface damage to Holmfirth Bridleway 94 since Kirklees granted planning permission to permit more quarry HGV access to the site. User groups made some reasonable comments on this application at the time, suggesting a speed limit, signage and a priority system putting non motorised users at the top. All ignored,of course.
Although the bridleway forms access to the quarry it is outside the red line boundary of the planning applications. There has been no planning application as far as PathWatch can see for any works to Bridleway 94. Although the quarry sites are industrial, Bridleway 94 remains in the greenbelt.
It is something of a surprise then to see that the bridleway is being subject to some civil engineering works to both widen it and lower the level by up to 3 metres in places. Ironically in the supporting information for the planning application the applicant states “the HGV access route (bridleway 94) contains grass verges on both sides providing step off areas for pedestrians and cyclists should a HGV be travelling along the track.” These verges are now either 2 metres or more in the air or gone. The bridleway sign has also disappeared.
There’s some rather large plant operating on the bridleway at present with no consideration at all for the safety of public users.
Yet another example, if one were needed, of Kirklees not properly considering public rights of way in the planning process. The bridleway is barely mentioned and clearly not seen as a valuable public amenity. There’s nothing put in place to protect the route and as everyone knows Kirklees are useless at enforcement be it in planning or public rights of way.
PathWath will report further on this issue but suspect Kirklees will deal with genuine public concerns via the usual evasion, incompetence and platitudes.
See below for ignored comment on Planning Application.
Described as about 330 metres long and a metre wide, Batley Footpath 5 was reported missing some years ago. Police are becoming increasingly concerned about the right of ways whereabouts since it was last seen disappearing into the undergrowth by the M62. Experts into the many “disappeared” paths in Kirklees fear Batley 5 may have been kidnapped or groomed into becoming a Light Goods Vehicle Training yard.
If you have any information about Batley Footpath 5 please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The public inquiry into diversion of Holmfirth Footpath 60 at Wolfstones reopens on 28th January 2022. At some point thereafter a decision will be made by the Inspector. Hopefully the order will not be confirmed and direct access to Wolfstone Heights will be maintained for the public benefit.
The final day of the inquiry is to hear closing submissions. The councils advocate’s statement can be read here . It’s a balanced and accurate case which reflects what was said at the inquiry.
The decades long mismanagement of Ramsden Road continues apace into 2022. Kirklees committed to close the road to damaging 4×4 vehicles and to repair it in 2018. It cocked up the legal order (after spending £10 grand on it) and ran away. A year ago it came up with a quick and cheap fix in the form of a public space protection order to be implemented in Spring 2021. This order has not yet come into force, largely because Kirklees don’t know what they are doing and seemingly have no mechanism for making such orders .
Had the order now been in place no vehicles would be permitted at all on Ramsden Road throughout the winter months. As it is so called “responsible” laners continue to use the road in all weathers and seasons. Lets be honest here, anyone driving a vehicle or motorbike on Ramsden Road in it’s current condition is irresponsible and is actively contributing to the continued destruction of the road to the detriment of non motorised users, residents and the environment. Predictably, the damage continues at an alarming pace and the road is now beyond any simple cost effective repair.
Fun fact, byways were originally recorded on Definitive Maps as routes mostly used by the public for the purposes of footpaths and bridleways ie walking and riding. Although the status acknowledged historical vehicular rights this was not the main public usage and of course the convoys of modern 4×4 vehicles now afflicting such lanes was unforeseeable in 1949.
A safe prediction for 2022 is that Ramsden Road will be worse by the end of it. The year has already started off badly with the Ruts R Us brigade extending their off piste activities into a new area on Footpath 175 just above Tinker Well – a private water supply. Another safe bet is that Kirklees Council, the Highway Authority with a statutory duty to maintain the Road, will do nothing. Having more or less exchanged bodily fluids with Ruts R Us over the past 3 years their position is more knackered than Ramsden Road itself.
In addition to the new Ruts R Us off piste facility a fuel or oil leak has left a rainbow of filth washing down Ramsden Road. Attentive readers may recall that in addition to private water supplies in the area there are 2 public reservoirs below Ramsden Road into which run off from the road inevitably ends up. Quiet rightly, Yorkshire Water are requiring any repairs to the road include a sealed drainage system to ensure run off from the road cannot enter the public water supply as it can do now. That will be an incredible cost to the public to construct and maintain.
The only reason any of this happening is because Kirklees failed to follow the correct procedure when making an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order in 2018 which would have taken all public motor vehicles off Ramsden Road. This mistake has spawned a cock up pandemic without end.
Previously on PathWatch we highlighted the technical climbing skills currently needed on the Colne Valley Circular Walk However we can now report that this stile has been replaced just in time for a bit of festive rambling.
Batley isn’t perhaps the first town in the borough you might go looking for a rural idyll but Lady Ann Crossing on Batley Footpath 20 is a bit of the Railway Children hanging on in the 21st century. Question is, for how much longer?
At the moment the signal box is staffed and path users can cross when it’s safe to do so. The signaler unlocks the gates and waves you through. A near perfect way to cross a live railway line. However, the fat controller wants to remove the current level crossing and staff as part of plans to “upgrade” the line which involve electrification and more trains.
There is currently a planning application for the works associated with removing the crossing and building a footbridge over the line which involves the rather fanciful diversion of Batley 20. See plan below.
The diversion proposal involves turning a straight forward 17m walk over the crossing into a convoluted marble run of 255m via steps or 355m via ramps. The inconvenience speaks for itself here and requires little further illumination.
Comments are open until 6th January 2022 via email@example.com
On the look out for a good news story PathWatch took a ramble on the lovely Colne Valley Circular Walk. We wanted some pics of a new ladder stile that was due to replace the disintegrating structure shown above.
It’s taken 2 years get to the point of Kirklees “solving” this issue (we use the term loosely ) but sadly (or predictably) nowts happened.
The old ladder stile remains in situ and an abseil is required from the top of the wall to the field below. Not quite the In Pin on the Cullin Ridge perhaps but a technical descent nonetheless.
It’s worth noting that Highway Authorities such as Kirklees have very clear and effective powers under the Highways Act 1980 and can serve notice on out of repair stiles or gates requiring owners to carry out repairs. The notice period is 14 days ! After that the council can do the work and reclaim the costs.
We’re at 2 years here on a promoted route. Answers on a postcard please.