Stile In A Gate


A brand new waymark nailed to a dead tree on Meltham Footpath 48 (above) directs the rambler over a beck to a second new waymark nailed to a leaning fence post  wreathed in several generations of barbed wire (below).


The second waymark is located next to a “stile in a gate” (bit like soap on a rope? Ed) which is impossible to use as the gate has fallen over and is held up only by the stile! This “stile in a gate” is however a superb example of the new Kirklees Standard “Most Restrictive Option”. Walkers seemed to take their chances with the adjacent 3 strand barbed wire fence rather than the “stile in a gate” which goes to show just how effective the “Most Restrictive” option is 🙂


The obvious question is why would anyone waymark a mess like this? Ensuring the path is obstruction free and safe to use prior to encouraging public use with new waymarks might be a better option.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?


The PathWatch advice would be to become a quasi legal/Prow specialist and help floundering Councils who don’t have a clue out of deep holes they’ve excavated for themselves.

Kirklees have now fessed up to the expert witness in the Huddersfield Byway 231 case costing some ÂŁ6,000 and the legal representative an eye watering ÂŁ14,800 plus VAT of tax payers money. This is on top of the ÂŁ10,000 budget for employing Leeds City Council as a consultant and the other ÂŁ14,000 of recorded legal costs incurred by Kirklees. It does not include other costs associated with the public inquiry, Costs of aborted enforcement action, costs of undisclosed legal advice and costs of copious amounts of staff time going back 10 years.

It’s an impressive performance for a local authority  with no money.

These figures and the history of how Kirklees have dealt with this issue illuminate how the council operates. In a nutshell. Public rights of way don’t matter and are not important. We therefore make mistakes because we don’t really care. When we get found out we deny this. We spend public money attempting to save face. This makes things worse but it goes on for such a long time people forget or get fed up and stop bothering us. Repeat.

This has happened and continues on the Ramsden Road case which is summarised in Ramsden Road 

At the same time the council insists on having it’s cake and eating it by using the “we have no money” excuse for every public path across the district. This of course is a con. They have plenty of money but it hemorrhages on constant comedy cock ups (see above).

Kirklees Council Refuses To Reveal Costs To Taxpayers For Rights Of Way Consultant.


Some time ago we asked Kirklees Council via the freedom of information act how much the consultant employed to handle the comedy of errors on Huddersfield Byway 231 was costing the taxpayer. Unlike this blog the Council doesn’t intentionally do irony but its answer seemed top heavy with it. “We don’t know the cost as the consultant might have more work to do” they said. So no estimate for the work? No daily rate? No running tally to date? Just don’t know?

It’s no wonder they only have 60p out of every ÂŁ1 they had 10 years ago carrying on like this! Why not just come clean and tell the public? No they’d rather keep digging and let the matter go to an internal review rather than tell the public how much something is costing …er…the public because…well …the council cocked up in 1985.

These things matter because as long as Kirklees keep cocking up it costs us. A week long public inquiry has just finished into this case with the public footing the bill. Not just for the councils prow consultant but also a barrister, cost of officer time in support,room hire etc etc.

And the irony is that Kirklees will tell you until the cows come home they have no money for public rights of way. What they aren’t prepared to share is the cost to the public of council inspired cock ups. Seemingly there is a magic money tree for this. Ramsden Road, Blackpool Bridge, miles of strimming and hundreds of sign posts could probably be done with the money spent on the holes they dig when they get something wrong.

The Council ought to be completely transparent in how and why it is spending public money. It ought to be following best practice and working within the law to ensure expensive cock ups never happen. PathWatch will keep plugging away at this one.


Now That’s What I Call More Things On Footpaths That Probably Shouldn’t Be There No.19374. Get Off My Land Special Edition

It’s been a while Ramblers but I hope you all enjoy this “Get of my land” special edition of “Things on footpaths….”

Obstructions are such a part of the walking experience in Kirklees they even get waymarked! What a thoughtful touch.
The classic “agricultural handrail” 
KB 153 Obstructio
Gardeners Question Time from a public footpath near Huddersfield.
HOL 75 obs
Little House on the…er…footpath?
HOL 73 Fence obs (2)
Oh dear.
Knock Knock
HO 73 Barb Obs
Welcome to the countryside.
Trials of a new recycled surfacing on a Kirklees path.
Hol 45 stile 4
Wall & waymark post in drunken brawl. Witnesses sought.
hol 73 stile 4
I get knocked down….but probably don’t get back up again. 
HOL 73 Fence obs
New rights of way standard launched in Kirklees. The Most Restrictive Option. 


Holmfirth Footpath 134

Holmfirth 134 before

I mentioned this obstruction a few weeks ago and I’m happy to report that the offending fence has now been completely removed!

And after

It would hard to find a more straightforward and obvious obstruction on a public footpath yet It’s  taken 2 years to get it removed. In that time the Council’s position has moved from “it’s not an obstruction” to “it is an obstruction”. That’s quite a change and demonstrates the Council’s default position of permitting obstructions on public footpaths unless and until they come under intense pressure to do otherwise.

In this and many other cases it takes a notice under the Highways Act to force Kirklees into action. This is despite the authorities statutory duties under the same act and its duty to act in the public interest.

In addition this is an incredibly wasteful way to work. It involves multiple site visits to the same obstruction to record and photograph the same thing two years apart,  land searches, letters to landowners all duplicated etc etc.  This is time and money which could be spent removing one of the many other Kirklees obstructions.

Why would any publicly funded organisation with clear statutory duties choose to operate in this way?




Batley Footpath 49

The long saga of Batley Footpath 49 has at last come to a satisfactory end with the path staying where it  has always been despite the best efforts of various landowners, solicitors and expert representatives.  Kirklees have been vindicated in their past enforcement action and in the accuracy of their Definitive Map.

Following an appeal by the landowner against Kirklees decision not to make an order the Inspector found no evidence that Batley Footpath 49 was incorrectly recorded on the Definitive Map. The decision can be viewed here  fps_z4718_14a_1_decision

Amusingly the inspector required Kirklees to make an order to add a footpath on land behind Hey Beck but this order has not been confirmed. See here row_3188272_od

Challenging the Definitive Map is a common tactic used by those wishing to deny legitimate public rights. It is particularly pleasing to note the final outcome on Batley Footpath 49.


Holmfirth Footpath 150 is open -ish

HF150 B (1 of 1)

150 (1 of 1)

The half dozen obstructions  on Holmfirth Footpath 150 have now been removed! The path does still have some problems of a boggy nature and the very top section which Kirklees signed as their path is now in Barnsley apparently. There is still work to be done here to get out onto the road.

It’s mildly amusing that Kirklees taxpayers have funded a public footpath sign in Barnsley and that Kirklees can conjure up these fun facts to avoid having to do anything on this short section. One might expect some cross authority liaison on such issues from our local highway authority to ensure  a proper job is done and perhaps to  avoid looking daft. In practice this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Greater Python Council

IMG_20171101_152608 (640x360)

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.








“We do not appear to prosecute as many people as we could” say Kirklees Council

stile10 (1 of 1)


So back on 19th January after reading of an Enforcement Success In Kirklees I wrote directly to Councillor Mather,the Cabinet member with responsibility for enforcement .  After a bit of chasing I got one of those “Friday Afternoon” replies the Council excel at from one of Cllr Mather’s Little Helpers. Cllr Mather’s response to my question ” In the full survey of the rights of way network carried out by Kirklees in 2007 some 1064 illegal obstructions were recorded (that’s 1.5 obstructions per mile). I wonder if you could let me know if any prosecutions were undertaken by the Council as a result of these findings”. contains the admission that the council “does not appear to prosecute as many people as we could” and “There have been no prosecutions taken by the council as a result of the PROW survey back in 2007″ 

Sadly the reasons for this depressingly poor performance are then justified by the the usual faded and jaded excuses.The  odd claim that “this is in the main because they are not as straight forward as you think.” is used. This contradicts Cllr Mather’s and the Council’s account of the wind turbine  case which paints a very efficient and professional picture of Council enforcement action. It’s very hard not to come to the obvious conclusion that there are no prosecutions in Kirklees for offences on rights of way because the Council just don’t give a toss.

This is further demonstrated by the conveniently vague claim that  “The council has taken the view to try and resolve as many issues as it can without the need to pursue a prosecution”  If this approach  exists I think Cllr Mather has missed an opportunity to share information on how many issues of obstruction have been resolved through these means since 2007. Has the number of recorded obstructions reduced from 1064 by using this mysterious approach?

The trump card for Kirklees as ever is “We’re skint.Go away” and Cllr Mather’s response pulls that one out right at the end  with  “Government funding dictates where the council’s priorities lie.” Funny that because I don’t recall a land of milk and honey pre 2007 on the rights of way network here. Let’s face it those 1064 obstructions were built up in the halcyon pre austerity days. A rather damning indictment of the Council’s performance when well funded rather than how it is performing now.

I don’t recall any prosecutions in the past 23 years either. Austerity is not the problem here it is the prevailing culture of indifference by the mostly labour controlled council, poor management by officials and senior executives  so out of touch with the people they serve they may as well not be here.

Austerity is the Councils get out of jail free card regarding it’s responsibilities for public rights of way. It will come and go like these things do but the culture surrounding Kirklees Council’s poor treatment of rights of way will be harder to change.

Of course Cllr Mather was full of enthusiasm earlier this week when arguing and voting in favour of the proposal to raise council tax by some 6% for the coming year. For this kind of money I would like some more intelligent answers and less fobbing off.

If you’ve read this far,watched all your paint dry and grass grow here are the two letters referred to.


 Enforcement Kirklees Public Rights of Way.

I read with interest an article in the Examiner detailing the Councils successful prosecution of a wind turbine company at Hade Edge and the fines and costs associated with this action. Congratulations to the Council for taking this stance and protecting the public in this way.

This has prompted me to contact you in your role as the cabinet member for enforcement.

I’m sure you are aware that Kirklees Council also has a statutory duty to protect over 700 miles of public rights of way in the district and can similarly prosecute or take enforcement action against those who wilfully obstruct these public highways. Unfortunately prosecutions in this area (which are arguably more straightforward) are practically unheard of and I thought it may be worth bringing this to your attention in the hope that you may be able to look into this and let me know why this is so?

In the full survey of the rights of way network carried out by Kirklees in 2007 some 1064 illegal obstructions were recorded (that’s 1.5 obstructions per mile). I wonder if you could let me know if any prosecutions were undertaken by the Council as a result of these findings. Also I’d be interested to know what action the Council has undertaken in the last 10 years to address the high number of obstructions on public rights of way in Kirklees.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kirklees Response

Cllr Mather, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Enforcement Management, has asked that I respond to your letter.

 Please accept my apologies for not replying sooner but we do have an extremely heavy workload at this time of the year. 

In answer to your question yes, we do not appear to prosecute as many people as we could and this is in the main because they are not as straight forward as you think. 

The council has taken the view to try and resolve as many issues as it can without the need to pursue a prosecution which can be time consuming, lengthy, expensive and not always the best use of council resources. 

There have been no prosecutions taken by the council as a result of the PROW survey back in 2007 as the council’s priorities have changed significantly since that time. 

The council has suffered a significant reduction in Government funding in the last decade of £197 million which is 60% of its budget. 

Government funding dictates where the council’s priorities lie. 

The council is currently reviewing the Environmental Enforcement Policy which will be considered by the council’ cabinet for approval.




Enforcement Success In Kirklees

HadeEdge.jpg (1 of 1) (640x427)

This case demonstrates the enforcement capabilities of Kirklees Council. It must have been a difficult and complex case to prove before a court and prosecute successfully. The fine and costs come to £50 odd grand according to the paper which sends out an incredibly strong signal to anyone else thinking of operating in this manner. Of course this is what councils should be doing to protect the environment and public from harm and nuisance where they have the duty and powers to do so.

One of the other  areas of responsibility Kirklees Council has is the  duty to protect over 700 miles of public rights of way in the district. Compared to proving before a court the harm done to residents by noise from a nearby wind turbine I would argue that prosecuting and proving one of the many examples of wilful obstruction to a public right of way is much more straightforward. Clearly Kirklees has the expertise and resources to prosecute such a straightforward matter. A number of successful and well publicised prosecutions for obstructing public rights of way would send out an equally strong message and,I would argue, deter others from obstructing public paths making management and use of the network easier in the long run.

I can’t recall  any recent examples of Kirklees prosecuting for wilful obstruction of a public path despite the many examples they have to choose from but perhaps they don’t publicise this aspect of thier work?