Quick Clean Up On Ramsden Road By Police & Kirklees.

West Yorkshire Police recovering stolen land rover on Ramsden Road

Saturday morning saw a stolen and burnt out land rover left up on Ramsden Road. It was recovered quickly by the police and taken away. Credit to Kirklees for cleaning up the debris on the Monday morning.

The left overs

All cleaned up by Kirklees within 48 hours

SBS In Action – 4×4 Seized On Local Lane.

The elite SBS (like the SAS but for bridleways) have been in action in the Holmfirth area seizing an illegal 4×4 with only their bare hands and elderly pit ponies from Barnsley.

Sgnt. Harvey “Blunty” Smith who leads the crack squad told us “We were the only squad with the capability to operate in this weeks 300 mph winds. Equipped as we are in all weather leotards we sent out our heaviest officer PC Enormous Haystacks on his two pit ponies. PC Haystacks grappled the 4×4 onto our break down truck and it was job done. The two pit ponies did blow away but were found the next day in a shed near Marsden”.

Sub Committee Highlights

Kirklees HQ

An occasional PathWatch column from our special political correspondent Doris Kunsberg-Bottom of the Heckmondwike Courier.

A fairly quiet Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee this month with only one minor rights of way issue. Item no.7 was introduced by the Chair and ex coal carrying champion Cllr Terry Lyons with a rather tart ” I think we’ve discussed this more than enough”. The item relates to Holmfirth 60 at Wolfstones and the proposed verge improvements which were always the reddest of red herrings in the diversion proposal. Kirklees won’t be taking up the applicants offer to tart up the verge after all. Incredibly this was an “emergency decision” taken by the council’s Strategic Director, Colin Parr. The Courier were hoping to do a “day in the life of a Kirklees Strategic Director” but there wasn’t enough material.

The main item on the agenda were the “improvements” to Holmfirth town centre which involve the demolition of Holmfirth Market Hall and construction of a car park and small public area in it’s place. A fair swap?

The original proposals would have turned the whole of Holmfirth into an inner ring road for Plevin wagons but such was the level of objection these were shelved. Relieved at saving the town centre the public have perhaps taken their eye off the ball and accepted a shoddy proposal without too much scrutiny.

Local shopper Shirley Spendthrift who loves a bargain told the Courier “The market hall has been deliberately run down by Kirklees who’ve been happy to see a once thriving building die. All the easier to get rid of it when the time came. That time is now. As a sop they’ve granted a market licence to a third party, surely knowing an outdoor market here will never succeed, and have agreed to modify the plans so that volunteers can fish shopping trolleys from the river more easily and …er …yes that’s it!”

The courier also spoke to Kevin McCloud a well respected architect who told us. “There’s no need for more parking or cars in Holmfirth. The market hall could have been replaced with something smaller and designed as an attraction like the crook barn at Penistone market. Along with complimentary public space and real riverside access this could have formed an attractive and lively public area. The lack of imagination and aspiration here speaks for itself.”

The real highlight of the sub committee meeting was local ward councillor Donald Firth who rang in from the middle ages to object to the proposal, talk about rats, ducks, people he didn’t know and insult several members of the public who had spoken very eloquently in favour of the proposal. In one of the wonders of the modern world 7,000 people voted to re elect him to Kirklees Council last year. You might well say Holmfirth only has itself to blame.

Councillor Nigel Patrick played a minor cameo. As ever typecast as a sinister Victorian mill owner he warned of economic catastrophe and large scale unemployment should the supply of baps to the bakers and Daily Mails to the newsagents be disrupted by having to cross the road.

One thing that really struck me is that if Kirklees can’t run a market in Holmfirth at a cost of £15k a year how is it going to manage a hotel in Huddersfield where the bill is already at £11 million? Doris Kunsberg-Bottom, Political Correspondent, Heckmondwike Courier.

Kirklees Rights of Way Improvement Plan Review.

ROWIP

PathWatch has previously highlighted the review of the current Kirklees Rights of Way Improvement Plan. The contract for this work was issued last summer to a private company. Despite being publicly funded and a review of a public document and highway network there has been no publicity around the review on the councils website or social media.

Councils are legally obliged to review these plans every 10 years, so it is a box that has to be ticked. It’s an opportunity to engage with the public and path users, see how the previous plan worked out , get a wide range of views and genuinely look to improve things. Or it could be done with no publicity, genuine engagement or aspiration for improvement. Is this what is happening in Kirklees?

On 7th February a questionnaire was sent out by the contractor to a limited group of stakeholders. Some very active groups seem to have been left out and there appears to be no attempt at a wider engagement with the public. The deadline for completing the questionnaire is 18th February – 12 days!

The questionnaire is here or contact

New Police Special Bridleways Service Launched in Yorkshire.

The new WYP Bridleways Enforcement Team For Holmfirth

West Yorkshire Police have launched a new elite enforcement team. Known as the SBS (like the SAS but with horses) the team is mounted on ex pit ponies from Barnsley and led by Harvey “Blunty” Smith from Bradford. At 108 years old”Blunty” is the last remaining officer from the “charge of the light brigade” still with the West Yorkshire Force.

Harvey told the blog that the SBS had been formed to tackle the loss of quiet country bridleways, an often overlooked rural crime. “Our ex pit ponies can trot at almost 2 miles an hour and we can be on any crime scene in Yorkshire within a few weeks” said Harvey. Officers are fully equipped with leotards and knee pads and will grapple suspects to the ground without hesitation.

The unique combination of horsemanship and 1970’s wrestling skills was thought up by a local government think tank at a cost of only £80085.23 per hour.

Speaking from Council HQ at the George Hotel in Huddersfield Councillor NotSo Shabby Pandor told the blog “The SBS reflects the priorities of equestrians everywhere and as a Council we are determined to improve the lives of horses and even mountain bikers, if we have to. Many residents also face a cost-of-living crisis this year, so we will step in with financial support for those equestrians who really need it. Like hotels, funding of equestrian care doesn’t come cheap but I’m sure most residents won’t mind the inevitable rise in council tax. ”

“We’re a diverse borough and every community has its own unique challenges. We feel targeting equestrian help in this way will have a huge impact. It’s not true that we are cost cutting with the 50 year old pit ponies and elderly wrestlers. Personally, I can’t wait to see Harvey and his squad grapple these stolen bridleways back into the public domain.

Harvey & SBS In Training at The George Hotel, Huddersfield.

Glover Landscape Review – A Chance To End “Green Laning”?

Green Laning In The Holme Valley

Part of the consultation on the Glover Landscapes Review (questions 14 to 17) concern the possibility of additional restrictions on motor vehicle use on so called “green lanes”. Think of the atrocious damage to Ramsden Road and other local unsealed highways. The countryside would be a much better place with public motor vehicles legislated out of existence on these routes. The consultation provides a once in a lifetime chance to get across to the government the damage and nuisance these vehicles cause. The questions are cut and pasted below for information.

The survey itself is here Dead line 9th April 2022. You know what to do 🙂

14.Should we give National Park Authorities and the Broads Authority and local
highway authorities additional powers to restrict recreational motor vehicle use on
unsealed routes? YES/NO/UNSURE
15.For which reasons should National Park Authorities, the Broads Authority and local
authorities exercise this power?
• Environmental protection
• Prevention of damage
• Nuisance
• Amenity
• Other [PLEASE STATE]
16.Should we legislate to restrict the use of motor vehicles on unsealed unclassified
roads for recreational use, subject to appropriate exemptions? Yes – everywhere/
Yes – in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty only/Yes – in
National Parks only/No/Unsure
17.What exemptions do you think would be required to protect the rights and
enjoyment of other users e.g., residents, businesses etc?

Ex Holmfirth Bridleway 94

Holmfirth BW 94 was at the bottom of the walls.

There have been increasing problems of obstruction and surface damage to Holmfirth Bridleway 94 since Kirklees granted planning permission to permit more quarry HGV access to the site. User groups made some reasonable comments on this application at the time, suggesting a speed limit, signage and a priority system putting non motorised users at the top. All ignored,of course.

Although the bridleway forms access to the quarry it is outside the red line boundary of the planning applications. There has been no planning application as far as PathWatch can see for any works to Bridleway 94. Although the quarry sites are industrial, Bridleway 94 remains in the greenbelt.

Difference in levels very clear in this photo.

It is something of a surprise then to see that the bridleway is being subject to some civil engineering works to both widen it and lower the level by up to 3 metres in places. Ironically in the supporting information for the planning application the applicant states “the HGV access route (bridleway 94) contains grass verges on both sides providing step off areas for pedestrians and cyclists should a HGV be travelling along the track.” These verges are now either 2 metres or more in the air or gone. The bridleway sign has also disappeared.

There’s some rather large plant operating on the bridleway at present with no consideration at all for the safety of public users.

Red line planning boundary. Bridleway is clearly outside this.

Yet another example, if one were needed, of Kirklees not properly considering public rights of way in the planning process. The bridleway is barely mentioned and clearly not seen as a valuable public amenity. There’s nothing put in place to protect the route and as everyone knows Kirklees are useless at enforcement be it in planning or public rights of way.

Bridleway 94

PathWath will report further on this issue but suspect Kirklees will deal with genuine public concerns via the usual evasion, incompetence and platitudes.

Useful information – Planing Enforcement highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk Ward Councillors

See below for ignored comment on Planning Application.

Missing In Batley. Have You Seen Footpath No.5 ?

Photofit of Batley 5 drawn onto Google Maps.

Described as about 330 metres long and a metre wide, Batley Footpath 5 was reported missing some years ago. Police are becoming increasingly concerned about the right of ways whereabouts since it was last seen disappearing into the undergrowth by the M62. Experts into the many “disappeared” paths in Kirklees fear Batley 5 may have been kidnapped or groomed into becoming a Light Goods Vehicle Training yard.

If you have any information about Batley Footpath 5 please contact highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk

Wolfstones – Holmfirth Footpath 60

Wolfstones

The public inquiry into diversion of Holmfirth Footpath 60 at Wolfstones reopens on 28th January 2022. At some point thereafter a decision will be made by the Inspector. Hopefully the order will not be confirmed and direct access to Wolfstone Heights will be maintained for the public benefit.

The final day of the inquiry is to hear closing submissions. The councils advocate’s statement can be read here . It’s a balanced and accurate case which reflects what was said at the inquiry.

Ruts R Us.

Fuel spill on Ramsden road.

The decades long mismanagement of Ramsden Road continues apace into 2022. Kirklees committed to close the road to damaging 4×4 vehicles and to repair it in 2018. It cocked up the legal order (after spending £10 grand on it) and ran away. A year ago it came up with a quick and cheap fix in the form of a public space protection order to be implemented in Spring 2021. This order has not yet come into force, largely because Kirklees don’t know what they are doing and seemingly have no mechanism for making such orders .

Had the order now been in place no vehicles would be permitted at all on Ramsden Road throughout the winter months. As it is so called “responsible” laners continue to use the road in all weathers and seasons. Lets be honest here, anyone driving a vehicle or motorbike on Ramsden Road in it’s current condition is irresponsible and is actively contributing to the continued destruction of the road to the detriment of non motorised users, residents and the environment. Predictably, the damage continues at an alarming pace and the road is now beyond any simple cost effective repair.

Fun fact, byways were originally recorded on Definitive Maps as routes mostly used by the public for the purposes of footpaths and bridleways ie walking and riding. Although the status acknowledged historical vehicular rights this was not the main public usage and of course the convoys of modern 4×4 vehicles now afflicting such lanes was unforeseeable in 1949.

A safe prediction for 2022 is that Ramsden Road will be worse by the end of it. The year has already started off badly with the Ruts R Us brigade extending their off piste activities into a new area on Footpath 175 just above Tinker Well – a private water supply. Another safe bet is that Kirklees Council, the Highway Authority with a statutory duty to maintain the Road, will do nothing. Having more or less exchanged bodily fluids with Ruts R Us over the past 3 years their position is more knackered than Ramsden Road itself.

Responsible use?

In addition to the new Ruts R Us off piste facility a fuel or oil leak has left a rainbow of filth washing down Ramsden Road. Attentive readers may recall that in addition to private water supplies in the area there are 2 public reservoirs below Ramsden Road into which run off from the road inevitably ends up. Quiet rightly, Yorkshire Water are requiring any repairs to the road include a sealed drainage system to ensure run off from the road cannot enter the public water supply as it can do now. That will be an incredible cost to the public to construct and maintain.

The only reason any of this happening is because Kirklees failed to follow the correct procedure when making an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order in 2018 which would have taken all public motor vehicles off Ramsden Road. This mistake has spawned a cock up pandemic without end.