Abseiling Skills Now Needed On Colne Valley Circular Walk

Ladder stile on Colne Valley Circular Walk (honestly it is).

On the look out for a good news story PathWatch took a ramble on the lovely Colne Valley Circular Walk. We wanted some pics of a new ladder stile that was due to replace the disintegrating structure shown above.

It’s taken 2 years get to the point of Kirklees “solving” this issue (we use the term loosely ) but sadly (or predictably) nowts happened.

The old ladder stile remains in situ and an abseil is required from the top of the wall to the field below. Not quite the In Pin on the Cullin Ridge perhaps but a technical descent nonetheless.

Top of the In Pin on the Colne Valley Circular Walk.

It’s worth noting that Highway Authorities such as Kirklees have very clear and effective powers under the Highways Act 1980 and can serve notice on out of repair stiles or gates requiring owners to carry out repairs. The notice period is 14 days ! After that the council can do the work and reclaim the costs.

We’re at 2 years here on a promoted route. Answers on a postcard please.

last Christmas I Gave You A Public Space Protection Order For Ramsden Road….

Off Piste Action

Last Christmas Kirklees came up with the improbable wheeze of putting a Public Space Protection Order on Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes. According to officers, senior directors and local Councillors it was a brilliant idea! It was cheap, fast and not subject to too much public scrutiny. In addition a public spirited 4×4 membership group were happy to manage very limited vehicular access costing the council nothing.

What could possibly go wrong?

Beyond the usual cock up variants that afflict kirklees a number of foreseeable plot obstacles seem to have scuppered things. The legislation which governs these orders is the Anti Social, Crime and Policing Act 2014. This legislation isn’t mentioned in the Kirklees scheme of delegation and therefore officers do not have authority to make such orders which is what the council was proposing. This was pointed out to the council at an early stage. They ignored it.Only very recently have Kirklees admited they have to carry out some “delegation of powers”. oh dear.

Interestingly anyone who has been fined under one of the many other PSPO’s in force in Kirklees may well be entitled to a refund if the orders have been made without proper authority.

The Green Lane Association were originally the group who were to administer limited vehicular access for their members. This has changed. The council will administer the 30 something vehicle permits a week but anyone of the 30 million registered UK vehicles can apply for a permit! Unsurprisingly no department within Kirklees has volunteered for this task. It’ll be a long wait.

The Council has balked at the cost of the 4 barriers required to close the lane but will not release the figure. The much smaller barrier on the Castle Hill Byway cost £20k. So you are probably looking at 2 years rights of way maintenance budget.

At best the PSPO looks like an unwanted Christmas present and at worst yet another cock up which has mutated to evade any degree of competence or professionalism.

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 .