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 The contract is to review the council’s out of date Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan . In all honesty the plan was outdated and clunky when published in 2010, so if done thoroughly this could be a good thing.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 The only reference to the Rights of Way Improvement Plan is a link to the outdated version.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.
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.
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….
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?
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 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 .
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org ? )
It just so happens that one of the most well used public rights of way in the Holme Valley, the path to Sands Rec via the Cricket Club, has never been recorded on the Definitive Map for Kirklees.
Following the routes obstruction a claim was made by members of the public and Kirklees made an order in 2018. Inevitable objections were made but PathWatch is pleased to report light at the end of the tunnel (or possibly an oncoming train? Ed).
The Planning Inspectorate will now decide the case via written representations. Here’s the bumf from our man at the Ministry
It’s taken Kirklees almost 4 months to answer a simple FOI relating to the proposed PSPO on Ramsden Road/Yateholme Lanes. The legal limit under legislation is 20 working days.
Answers contained in the FOI release seem to contradict the Council’s previously stated position that access to Ramsden Road/Yateholme Lanes “will be managed on the councils behalf”. The recent omnishambles of a public consultation led members of the public and the Parish Council to understand that a 4×4 representative group would undertake this role with only its members being eligible for a permit.
The Foi answers are as follows –
Information on how members of the public can obtain a license to drive a vehicle in the exclusion area and what the cost of such a license will be.
A licence will be obtainable, free of charge, by contacting Kirklees Council. Information will appear on the website once it is made available.
The costs to Kirklees Council of administering the license system and/or the costs to Kirklees Council of using a third party to administer the license system.
The cost is within the service and is not separately identifiable.
Any correspondence or information held on negotiations with third parties in drawing up the licensing scheme.
The Scheme is in house.
Have the council moved away from a third party group with a few thousand members administering the scheme in favour of throwing the doors open to the 30 odd million registered vehicles in the UK and administering the permit scheme itself? I think we should be told.