True Or False?

Bob, Kirkwheeze Director of Comedy & Infrastructure.

Even though Kirklees Council have a statutory duty to investigate claims of the existence of rights of way and have a “Priority” list of 212 outstanding applications going back to the 1980’s and limited resources for this work they are currently consulting on extinguishing a public footpath . Something they don’t have to do.

Definitive Map Modification Order Application.  Section 53 Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Farnley Tyas.

Kirklees are currently investigating an application to add this well used path to the Definitive Map. See email below and contact details etc.

“In 2019, Kirklees Council received an application for a definitive map modification order to add a public footpath to the definitive map and statement between Kirkburton 55 at Upper High Fields to Woodsome Road at Farnley Tyas Bowling Club, Farnley Tyas.  Please find attached a plan of the application route shown by the letters A-B-C.

The Council has a legal duty to investigate the application and decide whether or not the definitive map and statement needs to be modified.  The definitive map and statement is the legal record of public rights of way.  If through our investigation we discover evidence that there is a public right of way that is not currently recorded, then an Order to modify the definitive map and statement would be made under the provisions of section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

As part of our investigation, we are now carrying out a 28 day informal consultation and we welcome your comments. The formal application was made on the 3 April 2019, so we are particularly interested in the history of the application route prior to that date.  

In particular, we would like to know about the following:

  • Your use of the path – for example, over what period of time did you use the path?  How often?  For what purposes did you use thepath?  Where were you going to?
  • If you used the path all year round
  • Use of the path by other people
  • The presence of gates, stiles, fences or other barriers or obstructions
  • Any signs or notices on the path, and what they said
  • If you were ever challenged when using the path, or challenged anyone else
  • If you have been given permission, or have given others permission to use the path
  • Anything else you feel may be relevant in establishing the status of the path
  • A map or plan showing the route to which you are referring

If you have any further evidence about this route, we would be grateful if you could submit it to the Public Rights of Way Team at the address above, or by email to publicrightsofway@kirklees.gov.uk and by 29 November 2021.  If we have not heard from you by that date, we will assume that you have no further comments or evidence to add at this stage. 

Please note that this communication forms part of the investigation and that no decision on the application has yet been made by the Council.  Any comments you make or evidence you provide may eventually become public and may be used in evidence at a public inquiry.”

Kirklees Spends £20k On Review of Rights Of Way Improvement Plan.

The original clunky improvement plan.

In July this year Kirklees issued a contract to an external company called Haskoning DHV UK Limited. The contract is to review the council’s out of date Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan . In all honesty the plan was outdated and clunky when published in 2010, so if done thoroughly this could be a good thing. The value of the contract is some £20k .

There is no mention on the council’s website of the review and how the public and user groups may comment or be involved. The only reference to the Rights of Way Improvement Plan is a link to the outdated version. The plan is, or should be, an important document which should seek to resolve the many issues surrounding the poor management of public rights of way in the district.

More on this story in due course.

ROWIP Review Contract

4 Foot Wide Footpath Or 30 Feet Wide Bridleway?

Inclosure of Lands Graveship of Holme

Clues to the widths and status to some local public rights of way can be found (if you are lucky) in the in the Graveship of Holme Inclosure Awards. These awards came about as a result of the Graveship of Holme Inclosure Act of 1828. The Act is available online here but the awards are only available at the archives in Huddersfield Library.

Among the awards of land are awards of many local public highways, including some footpaths and bridleways. It’s clear from even a casual peek that there can be a glaring difference between what is awarded by act of parliament back in 1828 and what was subsequently recorded on the local Definitive Map & Statement as a result of the 1949 National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act. These differences can be significant. A bridleway some 30 feet in width recorded in the Inclosures of 1828 can be shown as a public footpath 4 feet wide on the Kirklees Definitive Map & Statement.

Every day local government shadiness , incompetence and disinterest probably explain the discrepancies. It is clear from The West Riding Memo and The Great Prow Swindle that West Riding Council actively set out to limit the widths of public rights of way to the bare minimum whilst happily recording footpaths rather than bridleways.

There’s certainly a case for Kirklees and the other ex West Riding authorities to completely review every right of way which was historically enclosed between walls for accuracy of both width and status at the very least. Of course this will not be done. They are busy looking the other way until the 2026 deadline for historical evidence imposed by the CROW Act gets them off the hook. As ever this work is left to volunteers.

As examples part of Holmfirth Footpath 64, Issues Road is recorded as a 4 foot wide public footpath on the current Definitive Map. The 1828 Inclosures award this as a 30 foot wide bridleway (known as Meal Hill Road at that time). Bilberry Mill Road is awarded as a 20 foot wide bridleway. It is not currently shown on the Definitive Map & Statement.

Not the best photo. See Meal Hill & Bilberry Mill Roads.

Lack Of Maintenance Ramsden Road Drains

Lockdown haircut needed.

Previously on PathWatch we’ve highlighted the 2020 works to “repair” a flat section of Ramsden Road and install a lateral drain about 1000m long. The poorly specified works have never really worked effectively.

Culverts were built with nowhere for the water to go and the level of most of the road was left below the drains. The only spectacularly “successful” section was the drain left open to pour water down the hill. This has worked very effectively in causing an increased rate of erosion on the rest of the downhill surface. So, credit where it’s due on that one!

In the 14 months since the lateral drain was constructed large sections of it have predictably disappeared beneath new vegetation growth, rendering it pretty useless as a form of drainage.

There appears to be no plan in place to maintain the £15k drainage & surfacing paid for by the public. As ever the council appears to act like a forgetful goldfish constantly swimming around the same problems like it’s never seen them before….

Cheesgate Nab Side Closed To 4×4’s.

Cheesegate Nab Side

Previously on PathWatch we reported on the hammering the lovely Cheesegate Nab Side was getting from 4×4’s

As ever our hapless council brushed off the genuine concerns of residents and non motorised users with a nonchalant “This track leading up through Cheese Gate Nab has been in this exact same condition for 20+ years and has caused little to no issue over that period. An answer it took 2 years to think up!

However some doughty public campaigners and a local councillor who was up for re election last May seem to have got the bureaucratic oil tanker to turn course.

PathWatch has been aware of a potential Temporary Closure of the route for some time and last week we received reports of concrete blocks and road closed signs been put in place 🙂

Although we’ve not had sight of the legal order closing the route it all looks very promising and shows the power of e mails and councillors up for re election.

The closure is made under the guise of needing to “carry out repairs” but Cheesegate Nab Side will likely never be subject to 4×4’s use ever again. The temporary closure can be extended almost indefinitely or be followed by a full TRO or a pound shop PSCO.

Whilst not the beginning of the end for 4×4’s in the valley it could well be the beginning of the beginning of the end as Mr Churchill might say.

Of course this all rather begs the question, why not do the same on Ramsden Road?

Holmfirth Footpath 60 Wolfstones s247

Holmfirth Footpath 60

The public Inquiry into the proposed stopping up and diversion of Holmfirth 60 takes place on 23rd of August. The Department of Transport publish documents relating to the inquiry here and it is regularly updated.

This process is funded by the taxpayer. So if you want to see what your money is spent on, are interested in the path or just can’t sleep, it’s worth a read.

Holmfirth FP 146 At Lower Millshaw. Planning Inspectorate Confirm Diversion Order.

Holmfirth 146 a few days after planning permission was granted.

Don’t panic. This is definitely a case of ramblers living happily ever after. We have of course been put through the usual ordeal of trial by planning permissions, obstruction, excavation and comedy gates but FP 146 has survived!

In fact it has a new life as a field path away from the old farm and on a much more rambler friendly line with gates! Think of these diversions as a witness protection scheme for footpaths and you get the gist.

Following the resolution of objections to the order and corrections to errors in the order the Planning Inspectorate has now confirmed the new route. All the details from our chap at the Ministry .

Holmfirth Footpath 73 Barbed Wire Removed.

Holmfirth 73 July 2020
Holmfirth 73 July 2021

It doesn’t look much but it represents 52 plus weeks of effort to get a nasty little 2 strand barbed wire fence removed from this delightful path. Don’t be fooled by the insulation over the wire, this was a real arse ripper.

However, it is now gone thanks to Kirklees who have cleared it completely and also strimmed the remainder of the path to make it accessible and easy to follow. This obstruction appeared shortly after an older obstruction was removed last summer.

500 New Path Signs For Kirklees!

Path signs are a legal requirement where a path leaves the public road.

In a very positive move Kirklees Council have bought enough signs and poles to erect 500 footpath/bridleway signs across the district. These signs are vital in indicating the existence of public paths where they leave the public road. Their presence gives confidence to members of the public and encourages use.

Well done Kirklees!

(Now might be a good time to let kirklees know of any missing signs via highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk ? )