In stark contrast to the Ramsden Road/Yateholme shenanigans Kirklees Council have made a Traffic Regulation Order to close Huddersfield Byway 170/10 overnight to vehicles. The order can be viewed here . A gate has been placed on site to physically restrict traffic and the council will pay a security firm to open and close the gate daily for a period of at least 18 months. It just goes to show that not all byways in Kirklees are equal.
On Castle Hill there is no arrangement on access for “responsible” users as proposed in the Ramsden Road/ Yateholme Public Space Protection Order. Good and bad alike are banned overnight from driving up to enjoy Huddersfield’s most iconic and popular landmark. Such is the council’s muddled approach to byways in the area.
The email below has been provided by Kirklees in response to a Freedom of Information request asking for information on the informal consultations Kirklees have carried out with “relevant stakeholders” regarding a proposed Public Space Protection Order partially restricting some vehicular use on Ramsden Road & the Yateholme Lanes.
The only written correspondence which outlines the proposal is an email to the Green Lane Association who represent motor vehicle users. In contrast local residents and non motorised users who are asking to be involved at this early stage to shape the outcome of the process (in line with the statutory guidelines) are being completely ignored.
Any competent authority acting in the public interest would put the proposal in writing to as wide an audience as possible and invite comment. The fact that Kirklees have not done this and are deliberately excluding a wide range of genuinely interested parties (non motorised users, residents etc.) is worthy of explanation. Don’t hold your breath though.
From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: row; Subject: RE: Ramsden Road Date: 21 January 2021 08:55:00 Dear XXXX, The proposal is really simple below is what I sent to Cllrs for their views The introduction of a Public Space Protection Order that will limit the access by 4 wheeled vehicles with the intention that this is to prevent unregulated 4×4 activity. The order will allow the gating of the access points on Brownlee Lane, Ramsden Road and Rake Head Road – with access arrangements in place for all those who require access such as landowners and their representatives such as gamekeepers , Yorkshire water and the fishing club, in addition the order will not prevent access by other user types, such a trail bikes, mountain bikes, horse riders and walkers. It is further proposed that this is not a complete ban, but a means of regulation of access by recreational 4×4 use, so working with Glass agree a permit system where access is permitted under certain conditions, so consideration to the hours of access, the weather conditions and the numbers per day, and per group, all with the intention of reducing the ASB element, and if people do feel the need to either travel off route, or drive in a fashion that is unacceptable then they can easily be identified There have been further incidents last night where walls have been damaged to access fields to drive round, so I would appreciate a discussion sooner rather than later if possible please, as I really do want to work with all the responsible stakeholders to reach a pragmatic and workable solution. Regards
It’s always good to compare the practice of different local authorities on similar issues. As luck would have it Erewash Borough Council in Derbyshire is currently in the process of consulting and drafting a Public Space Protection Order for an unmade lane in it’s area (Brackley Gate,Morley & Moor Lane, Little Eaton). The lane has been subject to alleged anti social behaviour associated with vehicular use along the same lines as Ramsden Road & the Yateholme Lanes in Kirklees.
The approach of Erewash Borough council is strikingly different to that of secretive Kirklees. Erewash have produced an extensive report for consideration by the Council Executive. The report can be viewed here Public Spaces Protection Order and it is worth a read to see an authority and it’s officers having a decent go at being open, accountable and acting in the public interest on an often contentious subject.
The report details extensive informal consultations carried out with residents and other interested parties. This is really crucial to establishing the degree of the anti social problem and whether or not a PSPO is the right answer. It’s clear in the Erewash case that everyone with an interest has been involved informally and this information along with more formal evidence of police involvement is there in the report. This is a good example of an authority following the statutory guidance for making PSPO’s. It puts the council and public in a robust position prior to a formal consultation.
In Kirklees the Ramsden Road/Yateholme Lanes PSPO came to public attention entirely by accident towards the end of January 2021. Kirklees managers refuse point blank to informally consult with any local residents in the area or any interested user groups or individuals who use the lanes apart from The Green Lane Association, who represent motor vehicle users. Indeed Kirklees have said of walkers that “We are being very clear who is within scope and that does not include walkers”. Despite numerous emails and phone calls from people interested in contributing the council will not engage.
A freedom of information request asking Kirklees to disclose who has been informally consulted and where the PSPO idea originates has yet to be answered and is now outside the legal timescale. Kirklees have been unable to provide any details on it’s current procedure for making a PSPO beyond saying it’s a “delegated officer” decision. However, no documentation has been provided to date to show this is the case. The Kirklees approach is inexplicable when compared to the Erewash case.
These PSPO’s are increasingly seen as cheap and cheerful Pound Shop Traffic Regulation Orders by some authorities. Perhaps that’s the attraction to Kirklees who displayed a shocking degree of incompetence when they made an erroneous TRO in 2018?
Sadly a Pound Shop TRO is not the answer for Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes. They will remain open to all motorbikes at all times and to 4×4’s some of the time under the Pound Shop TRO. This will permit continued damage to the fabric of the lanes and the amenity of the area. Perhaps this is why Kirklees managers wish to sneak this through with minimum scrutiny ?
One of the many oddities of rights of way in the Kirklees district is that almost every single footpath is recorded as 1.2 metres wide in the statement accompanying the definitive map. The path above is a classic example of the mismatch between what often exists on the ground, and may have done for hundreds of years, and what Kirklees accept responsibility for. The normal highways convention would be that the public highway is the full extent of the width between walls but Kirklees record this path as only 1.2 metres wide.
The answer to this anomaly can be explained,in part, by the 1954 “West Riding Memo”. This records a historical sleight of hand by the original surveying authority, the West Riding County Council.
As part of its obligations under the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act 1949 West Riding County Council had a duty to survey it’s area and record all public rights of way. These were then recorded on provisional, draft and finally a Definitive Map & Statement. The process was undertaken in the early 1950’s. Being a survey it should have recorded information found on the ground without any interpretation or subjective opinion. So the survey should establish if a way was a footpath or bridleway, the surface type and condition, the presence of gates,stiles and signs and the width of the path. Such information would be both evident on the ground and available from the evidence of path users.
The “West Riding Memo” shows a degree of subjective interference in the legal process which has no basis in the 1949 Act and has led to the significant under recording of path widths and subsequent loss of access to the public.
The memo was written by the County Engineer & Surveyor in December 1954. It instructs recipients involved in the surveying of public rights of way under the 1949 Act to deliberately change factual evidence in order to limit the County Council’s future maintenance liability. The County Engineer & Surveyor instructs that “all footpaths having a greater width than 6 feet should be changed to 4 feet” and “likewise all bridleways which are a greater width than 10 feet be reduced to 8 feet”. These “alterations” to the facts were to be done at the Draft Map stage.
The County Engineer & Surveyor justifies this change to the facts by stating that it was “to define the liability of the highway authority within the limits of ways which in some cases are 20, 30 and sometimes more feet between fences” It is doubtful that the County Engineer & Surveyor had any legal authority to change factual elements recorded in the survey of rights of way under the 1949 Act but he did it anyway!
One of the more glaring flaws in this approach is that the Highway Authorities 4 feet or 8 feet liability within the greater width was not defined (It couldn’t be could it?). Nearly 70 years on this causes Kirklees serious problems. The public often lose out when a dispute arises over a path width or location as the council has an under recorded width and cannot say exactly where it is! A good example of this is Holmfirth Footpath 60 where the 14 feet on the ground walked for hundreds of years has now been narrowed to the 4 feet recorded in the Definitive Statement.
A copy of the memo can be viewed here West Riding Memo Apologies for the quality but it was supplied by Kirklees.
Of late Kirklees Council have deployed the “we’re waiting for Yorkshire Water” excuse to any enquiries on the 25 year wait for repairs to Ramsden Road. It’s as lame as these excuses come and only serves to highlight the hapless council’s contempt for the public .
PathWatch has asked Yorkshire Water if they’d like to hurry up or if ,in fact, the council’s excuse is more in the “dog ate my homework, sir” category. In a very helpful response they have said that they’ve asked Kirklees for dates for a site visit and are actually waiting for them to respond.
They go on to say that as Ramsden Road carries motor vehicles their Water Quality Team are concerned that any drainage system Kirklees puts in does not channel water and any fuel/oil spill directly into the reservoir system. This is something Kirklees have never mentioned.
This is very sensible from Yorkshire Water and it highlights the lengths Kirklees Council are going to in order to keep the 4×4 lobby happy. Ramsden Road has never had such a drainage system in its history. Such a closed system will inevitably be far more costly and technically difficult to provide than the primitive drainage which 4×4’s have destroyed.
This is probably a good point to mention that the status of Ramsden Road is a Byway Open To All Traffic. As such it is recognised that historical vehicular rights exist dating back to the days of horse drawn carts etc. Such ways were recorded on Definitive Maps to both protect them and because their use was primarily that of bridleway ie used mostly by non motorised users such as walkers, riders and cyclists. Such use does not result in the degree of degradation caused by 4×4’s. It does not cost the public anything like the amounts involved in restoring the way for vehicle use. Nor are non motorised users a risk to the Holme Valley water supply.
Kirklees has seriously lost it’s way with Ramsden Road ( Really? Ed) and is giving priority to 4×4 motor vehicles at the expense of non motorised users. It’s proposed Public Space Protection Order will still permit motor vehicle use and the inevitable damage/pollution that goes with it. The hold up in a scheme of repairs seems partly due to having to provide a sealed drainage system to prevent oil/fuel leaks from 4×4’s entering the local water system.
The council’s disdain for non motorised users is summed up in its approach to the Public Space Protection Order proposal. The legislation and statutory guidance surrounding such orders emphasises “putting victims first”. In this respect pedestrians on Ramsden Road certainly fit the bill. The surface and drainage has been destroyed by 4×4’s, there is broken glass,lights and plastic all over the place, fly tipping, dangerous driving etc etc All this makes Ramsden Road an unpleasant place to be for pedestrians because of motor vehicles.
However, Kirklees managers don’t see it like this. According to them walkers in the PSPO process“are not an affected stakeholder” and they go on to say “We are being very clear who is within scope and that does not include walkers”. It does,of course, include 4×4 user groups and their representatives. At least, for the very first time, this is an honest answer.
The PathWatch crystal ball was spot on in Ramsden Road Public Space Protection Order ? (2) . Kirklees Council are to put a Public Space Protection Order on Ramsden Road to partially restrict some vehicular access. This is to address an explosion in anti social behaviour they arguably created by not fully closing Ramsden Road to motor vehicles in 2018 due to errors in the Environmental Traffic Regulation Order. See here
The PSPO is confirmed in a letter to Holmfirth Parish Council 3214-P._All-in-1 (document 51). Motor bikes will have 24/7 access. 4×4 vehicles will still have access which will be “managed” by the Green Lane Association. Make what you will of that but it’s not a solution to vehicular damage on the unsealed Ramsden Road and Yateholme Lanes caused by legal vehicular use. This will continue despite council officers views that “the issue at Ramsden road specifically is that the route is not being used illegally, there is a legal right for 4×4 usage, but it is that very allowed usage that has certainly contributed and exacerbated any issues with surface degradation.”(July 2018)
Ironically the PSPO proposal completely denies access to horse drawn vehicles which established vehicular rights to these lanes in the dim and distant past. Our hapless bureaucrats have missed this one completely and it could conceivably lead to a further legal challenge. Do they ever learn?
In a startling announcement Kirklees Council have revealed that works to repair the badly damaged Ramsden Road will begin next week. A groundbreaking new technique is to be used on the byway which the council have spent several decades destroying.
A spokesman for the council told PathWatch “Although we live in challenging times and have diminishing resources for this kind of work we recently realised that we are resource rich in excuses. As it seems to be the only thing we never run out of we’ve decided to use our excuse bank to resurface Ramsden Road. The top section is relatively straightforward and we can use “We’re waiting for Yorkshire Water” on most of this. However on the steep slope we will need to use a large amount of “austerity” based excuses mixed with some old reliables like “Foot & Mouth”, “Finite budget”, “Competing demands” and “Resource envelopes”. So, some real heavyweight surfacing going on there.”
The council spokesman added that “using excuses like this fits with our green and renewable agenda. The real beauty of using excuses in a sensitive area like Ramsden Road is they blend into the countryside. I’d go as far as saying you can see right through them.”
Further to Ramsden Road – Public Space Protection Order? it’s worth highlighting the guidance from the Local Government Association which sensibly suggests to local authorities that “it is useful for local areas to seek early contact with interest groups when scoping their proposals, to help identify how best to approach a particular issue, before the formal statutory consultation takes place” Sensible guidance indeed.
The legislation is all about putting the victim first too. So you might reasonably expect a local authority would involve those affected by the anti social behaviour and get their views to help form the solution. In the case of Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes that would be local residents,farmers, fishing club,shoot, walkers, cyclists,riders, parish council and the dreaded off roaders.
Things are different here in this corner of West Yorkshire. Kremlin Kirklees claims to have consulted “key stakeholders” but despite being asked on several occasions it has declined to identify who those “key stakeholders” are. It certainly doesn’t include local residents in the area whose lives are blighted by 4×4 drivers. It doesn’t include walking groups or equestrian groups who Kremlin Kirklees have point blank refused to provide any information to. Kremlin Kirklees have been asked if any national organisations representing 4×4 drivers have been involved in the process. They haven’t answered.
Kremlin Kirklees will miss a lot of good and possibly alternative ideas of dealing with Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes (like a TRO. Ed) but lets face it they don’t want to know.
The PathWatch theory is as follows. Kremlin Kirklees already have a done deal with an as yet unidentified 4×4 users group to close Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes to motor vehicles. The pay off for the as yet unidentified 4×4 user group is that their paid up members retain access via a key or access code system. Kremlin Kirklees is not really acting in the public interest in this theory and needs a PSPO to facilitate some continued 4×4 use of the lanes rather than solving the many problems these vehicles create once and for all.
Is this a good deal for Kirklees rate payers who would still be liable to pay for the damage these vehicles cause? In effect the lanes would be open to 4×4 users on a private members club basis with the public picking up the tab. A Traffic Regulation Order banning all public motor vehicle use would be far more effective. It would remove all the vehicle related anti social behaviour, remove all the vehicular damage (which is extensive) and it would restore the amenity value of the area for residents and non motorised users. A PSPO may have some effect on a proportion of anti social behaviour around vehicles. Far less effective than a full TRO.
PathWatch may be wrong but in the absence of Kremlin Kirklees actually explaining anything this seems a good working theory and explains the councils blanket ban on sharing information. Time will tell comrades.
Kirklees is rapidly becoming the jewel in the green laners crown. The 4×4 friendly council have for many years given carte blanche for Ramsden Road and connecting lanes to be sacrificed to this anti social pass time at the expense of all other users and the environment.
The councils unique skill set of incompetence and indifference have served them well on Ramsden Road where every half cocked intervention over 25 years has succeeded in making things worse … unless you’re in a 4×4!
In the latest twist it appears that Kirklees officers have been “consulting” some “key stakeholders” regarding making a Public Space Protection Order on Ramsden Road. Those “key Stakeholders” don’t appear to be from groups most negatively affected by 4×4 use on Ramsden Road – walkers,cyclists,equestrians or residents. Who could the mystery “key Stakeholders” be? Kirklees should come clean and be clear on where the PSPO idea has come from and who the “Key Stakeholders” are.
Public Space Protection Orders are fairly new and designed to tackle anti social behaviour. See here . It would seem an odd choice to use such a tool on Ramsden Road where the damage comes from legitimate legal use of the byway by 4×4 motor vehicles. The dreadful damage to adjacent land is an added bonus. Stop 4×4 access with a Traffic Regulation Order and it all goes away. Perhaps they are going to ban anti social ramblers? At the moment no one knows as Kirklees officers have refused point blank to provide any information. This is never a good sign.
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.