There are only 3 field paths in the Holme Valley which are across arable land. One at Netherthong which gets reinstated by sheer volume of public use, Holmfirth 135 (which Kirklees Officers have visited many times over the past 5 years without securing full reinstatement) and the Oilseed Rape Extreme Rambling Experience that is Holmfirth Footpath 45.
This is really basic public rights of way work and the fact that Kirklees cannot reach such a minimum requirement in the area speaks for itself. There seems to be a culture of the same requests from members of the public being passed to the same frontline staff on an annual basis without any effective action. The same sites and problems are visited over and over again but nothing happens.
This is not down to a lack of resources but an absence of training and proper oversight from managers. How can staff go out again and again to the same things without doing anything?
The Experimental Traffic Order on Hudddersfield Byway 170/10 is now live and the swanky new yellow gate is being closed overnight, supposedly to stop anti social behaviour.
This gate must easily be the most expensive thing on hinges on any Kirklees public right of way. It cost an eye watering £21,407 ! The costs can be found on the council’s contracts register .
In addition the costs involved with the Traffic Regulation Order are some £5,472. The council is being coy about the costs of employing the security firm Admiral to open and close the gate saying these have been “absorbed” into an existing contract.
There’s a couple of footbridges, many miles of strimming or signposts or path improvements for this kind of money. The council continually pleads a lack of resources for positive public rights of way work but happily visits the magic money tree to close a route to the most popular and widely enjoyed land mark in Kirklees. Surely there’s a better way?
Some 5 days after the consultation closed on this proposal all the information is finally available on the Kirklees website . There’s been no fanfare of publicity around this and the fact that the deadline has been quietly extended until 24th May 2021 may have gone unnoticed.
The whole process to date has been an amateurish omni-cockup worthy of a prize if there was one going for this kind of thing.
However, whilst this is far from the solution to the 4×4 and motorbike problem in the area it does contain some good things. For instance there is no access for vehicles between 1st November to 31st March without the council’s approval. No more than 32 vehicle movements a week. No access in snow or heavy rain.
The available access will be via Glass outside of winter and if the restrictions do come into force reporting of any misbehaviour with evidence will be vital in getting restrictions tightened.
Council officers claim the PSPO is a delegated Officer decision yet there is no record of any such decision being made on the council’s register of delegated decisions . Under its own constitution the authority is obliged to keep such a record and it is a criminal offence under the openness in local government regulations not to do so. We’ve been here before of course. There’s no record of the officer decision to rescind the 2018 Traffic Regulation Order on Ramsden Road either.
At the Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee on 21 April 2021 councillors voted in favour of making a modification order to the Definitive Map & Statement. The effect of the order, if confirmed, will change the width of Footpath 60 from 1.2m to between 3m and 4m.
The application came about as a result of Footpath 60 being significantly narrowed from the historical (but unrecorded) used width of 3m to 4m down to the 1.2m recorded in the current Statement. The image above illustrates the situation.
The officer report contains a useful summary and explanation of the evidence. In short there is much contemporary user evidence for the greater width which is supported by historical documents from the Inclosure Awards of 1829, successive Ordnance Survey editions, aerial photographs and today’s Google maps. The decision can be viewed here
This case is also the first public appearance of the West Riding Memo which was used to demonstrate the deliberate under recording of path widths by the local authority 70 years ago.
As so often happens with Kirklees a cock up was waiting around the corner to make things a little more interesting. As one of the links to the live streamed committee meeting didn’t work the matter will return to a future committee for reaffirmation.
The above plan shows a development site off Kenmore View, Cleckheaton. For the development to go ahead the public paths shown by solid black lines will be closed and the rather less direct dashed lines will be newly created paths. The consultation plan looks something like an entry into the Turner prize in this context. The Google screenshot below gives a little more focus showing the green nature of the site deep in the urban jungle of Cleckheaton. The bulldozers have already been there by the look of it.
An area of green space containing informal paths is priceless in an area like this. The many local objections and claims to have these paths put on the Definitive Map give an indication of local feelings. Sadly, it looks like the direct original paths will be swept away before ever being recorded to be replaced by those meandering dashes going nowhere around buildings.
Links to the plan and reason statement are below. Details of the proposal should be on the council’s website here
The West Riding Memo is the Original Sin of public rights of way management in this area. You can trace this early fitties fiddle through a long lineage of dodgy deals, nods & winks and theft of public access rights through to the 2020’s comedy calamities often featured on PathWatch. The laws and regulations surrounding public rights of way are only as good as those that administer them.
One of the effects of this swindle is the chronic lack of bridleways in the area. Rye Close Lane is recorded on the current Definitive Map and Statement as a 4 foot wide public footpath. Yet the original surveys record a RUPP (road used as public path) up to 12 feet wide. The surveys also record that part of the route was awarded in the Holme Inclosure Award as a road. The surveys were carried out by Holmfirth Urban District Council and are shown below.
That the route ended up on the Definitive Map and Statement as a 4 foot wide footpath would be something of a mystery but for the existence of a number of memos, including the West Riding Memo. It’s clear that the highway authority at the time was concerned at the potential maintenance liability of 12 foot wide bridleways and footpaths. It clearly bent the law to avoid this liability.
The document below shows an objection from Holmfirth Urban District Council to the inclusion of the route as a bridleway on the Definitive Map And Statement. It’s objecting to what it’s own surveyors have discovered! Without any explanatory remarks or evidence the route is downgraded to footpath and the width from 12 feet to 4 feet.
The closure plan for Yateholme/Ramsden Road. Only available on PathWatch.
Some 2 weeks into a controversial consultation for a public space protection order banning some vehicles from the Yateholme and Ramsden Road areas the Kirklees website still does not show either the draft order or plan which is being consulted on.
PathWatch made some enquiries and obtained the DRAFT PUBLISHED ORDER but no plan. It seemed no one at Kirklees knew where the plan was or that the order and plan were not available to public inspection on the website. However, it has turned up and PathWatch is more than happy to help out the hapless bureaucrats. Download the plan here TF.18.200.287 Ramsden Road, Holmbridge-Plan You’re welcome.
In a pleasing hint that perhaps our local bureaucrats do have a cheeky sense of humour the public space protection order for Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes was appropriately advertised in the local press on April Fools Day . Having spent the past 2 years telling us Ramsden Road must be open for all users all the time our hapless council have now double crossed all those who believed they actually meant that. A large swath of off roaders will be labeled anti social and banned from the lanes if they do not join the Green Lane Association for a ticket. All those locked out will no doubt be happy to oblige the trashing of vulnerable countryside elsewhere in the Holme Valley.
The answer to the green laning problem in the Holme Valley area is to put Traffic Regulation Orders prohibiting motor vehicles on all the lanes.
PathWatch will come back to the order in a future post. For now savour the extra half mile of hole the council has just dug itself into and the rich display of contempt council officers have heaped on residents and walkers in the area by completely ignoring their reasonable requests for engagement in favour of some 4×4 drivers. They must be an award for this kind of thing.
The newspaper advert provides a link to the order and plans on the council website. In true Kirklees form there’s nothing there! Perhaps it is an April Fool after all? (Probably the best hope for our local environment with these jokers.Ed.)
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.