Kirklees PROW Forum

Kirklees Prow Managers From the H Simpson Academy

The Kirklees Prow Forum has restarted after a long Covid break. The latest meeting was held on 25th July 2022. Here are the notes .

The problem with Public Rights of Way management in Kirklees is, and continues to be, a culture within management and councillors that Prows don’t matter. All prow problems highlighted on this blog and out there on the network stem from this notion. “It’s only a footpath” is repeated like a holy mantra any time some path problem comes to light.

The same errors are repeated over and over again. The costs involved dwarf the annual prow maintenance budget. That there is no coherent approach to enforcement, planning or cyclic maintenance of Prows speaks volumes. At the end of the day it’s only 700 miles of path network. How hard can it be?

Examples – Batley FP 5 Holmfirth BW 94 Ramsden Road Meltham BW 50 Colne Valley They’re only footpaths!

No Bull – Thanks Kirklees

Re homed to a field without a footpath

Previously on PathWatch we reported on a lone bull in a field crossed by Colne Valley Footpath 102. Having no female company the bulls presence was contrary to section 59 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The issue has been dealt with swiftly and effectively by Kirklees and the bull moved to a field without public access. Thanks to the council for this 🙂

Colne Valley Footpath 102 – Progress.

Progress 🙂

The fence obstruction across Colne Valley Footpath 102 had been there so long it had been waymarked!

Alas, this quirky bit of countryside furniture is no more. The obstruction has been removed and replaced with an easy to use gate.

It has taken a stream of emails and threats of notices to shift Kirklees into action but act they have. Thank you.

This path seems to suffer a lot of abuse. The new gate is but a few metres away from the infamous ladder stile which took a similar level of voluntary effort to spur the authorities into action.

The bull is also on this path in the next field. So do shut the gate if it’s not breathing down your neck 🙂

Beware Of The Bull!

It’s true to say that “Beware of the Bull” signs out number actual bulls in the English countryside. A surprise then to come across a bull in a field without any signs or the legally required female company.

Instead of Tinder bulls have section 59 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which requires them to have female company (cows/heifers) with them in any field crossed by a public right of way.

The bull may benefit from section 59 but the real reason for this clause is to protect ramblers from bulls. As well as cows and heifers bulls must be over 2 years old and not a dairy breed. The combination of age,females and being a beef breed usually keeps an equilibrium between bull/rambler. Rambers can enjoy a walk. Bulls can enjoy the female company.

At the time of writing there is a beef bull alone in a field crossed by Colne Valley Public Footpaths 102 and 103 at Grid Reference SE 074 151. Footpath 102 is part of the Colne Valley Circular Walk and we’re just into the school holidays.

Footpath 102 has featured on PathWatch before with the problem ladder stile.

Kirklees are aware of the bull.

Abseiling Skills Now Needed On Colne Valley Circular Walk

Ladder stile on Colne Valley Circular Walk (honestly it is).

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.

Top of the In Pin on the Colne Valley Circular Walk.

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.

Planning Application For Permanent Vehicular Access To Black Moss & Swellands.

Swellands reservoir.

A planning application has been submitted to the Peak Park by The Canal & Rivers Trust to build a road into Black Moss & Swellands Reservoir from the A62. This quiet area has no vehicle access and the character of the moors here will be changed by a development on this scale. The Pennine Way and many informal paths are directly affected. The proposal can be viewed here Comments on the application are open until 12th March 2021.

Colne Valley. The Elephants Graveyard Of Rights Of Way.

Snap shot of problem paths in the Colne Valley.

There are over 250 individual public rights of way in the Colne Valley and this ought to be a superb area for the 17k plus local population and visitors alike to go walking. It has a bit of everything from canals, rivers, woods, dark satanic mills and wild windswept moors.

The past ten years have seen previous work and investment to open up, sign and repair paths in the area swept away on a tide of austerity and local authority indifference. Longstanding historical problems have been left to ferment for another decade. A recent volunteer survey has recorded over 350 individual problems on the valley’s 250 rights of way. A large number of paths are completely blocked and unusable.

Kirklees front line staff do a good job with the limited resources at their disposal but an area with this level of prow disfunction needs an injection of cash, staff and expertise way above that presently available. The 800 odd miles of rights of way in Kirklees get a £50K annual revenue budget.

In contrast Kirklees Council bought the derelict George Hotel in Huddersfield in 2020 for £1.8 million (the previous owner paid £900k for it in 2013). It is spending some £250 million at various sites in Huddersfield Town centre and a reported £100 million in Dewsbury. So the council isn’t short of a bob or two when it wants to spend ( so long as it’s not public rights of way! Ed.)

Councillor Naheed Mather who is the cabinet member with responsibility for rights of way has been asked what further resources can be made available to help frontline staff tackle the Colne Valley. In response she suggested resources are stretched because of Covid 19 (but not so stretched that they can’t afford £1.8 million for a derelict hotel. Ed.) and directs members of the public to volunteer on Colne Valley paths for now (wot lockdown? Ed). This of course ignores the complex nature of path problems which often require a degree of legal or enforcement action and large scale ground works on site. It also abandons current frontline staff to an impossible task.

One can only wonder at the complete lack of aspiration and imagination from our local “leaders” with regard to maintaining and improving countryside access.

Colne Valley FP 165 Longstanding Obstruction Shifted

Before. Not so inviting.

This short section of path has some lovely views of the valley below and one or two niggling little problems. It is typical of many paths in the Colne Valley. One long standing obstruction has just been removed (see photos). Thanks are due to the Kirklees staff involved and to the voluntary efforts of Peak and Northern Footpath Society. The path remains invisible from the road network and the council have also been asked to sign the path in line with their legal duty to do so.

After. That’s better 🙂