Back in 2014 half a dozen members of the public reported locked gate obstructions on Batley Footpath 5. Some 8 years later and these obstructions remain in place. This is despite Kirklees Council serving s143 notices on the landowners responsible for the obstructions in 2018! Yes, you read that right 2018. We’re all for giving people plenty of time to remove obstructions but four years and counting?
The notices were obtained via a freedom of information request which Kirklees refused to answer for some 6 months. Legally,they should respond within 20 working days! It was only after the Information Commissioners Office became involved that the full sad tale of Batley 5 became apparent.
For whatever reasons the internal mechanisms within Kirklees which should kick in when a member of the public reports an obstruction do not seem to work (really?Ed).
Issues of enforcement are dealt with by a separate department from Prow and work is duplicated. Prow officers visit the site several times and this is repeated by enforcement officers when the matter is passed over for “enforcement action”. Some 6 Kirklees officers, 2 landowners, 1 Leeds officer, 1 third party solicitor, and 1 Highways Agency officer have been involved in the case. Land searches have been carried out, research into past side road orders which affect the path has been undertaken and extensive liaison with the neighboring authority of Leeds. The public of course pick up the substantial tab for all this.
The 4 obstructions are still there.
There is no overall management of enforcement cases and it seems all to easy for cases like this to disappear .
The council will now have to start the process again and incur some of the same costs a second time over.
Back in 2020 PathWatch reported briefly on some dodgy doings to the surface of Meltham Bridleway 50. In short the lovely and rightly popular bridleway had been dug up and poorly reinstated with large sized aggregate. Lots of users from all groups reported the matter as it was happening.
The Peak Park who are the planning authority visited the site and concluded that planning permission was needed for the works. Nothing has been heard from them since. Kirklees visited and did manage to halt any further work. That was the peak of their activity and interest.
So almost 2 years later and nothing has been done to put this bridleway back into a usable condition for the public to enjoy . Regular readers will recognise the pattern here. It goes like this. Damage or obstruction to a public right of way. Flurry of complaints from the public. Visits from numerous council staff (and in this case the national park). Then nothing.
PathWatch will be back in 2 years with a further update. Probably a cut and paste job.
Kirklees are currently consulting on the proposed diversion of Spen Footpath 24 in relation to this planning application. The planning application (for a rather large Amazon distribution centre) has yet to be approved. Kirklees are advertising this consultation under s257 of the Town & Country Planning Act. This section is for orders where a planning application has been approved. In fact orders for diversions ahead of full planning permissions being granted ought to be under s257 (1A). The impression this consultation gives is that the development is approved and it is not. Details of the consultation should be here
Needless to say it’s a dog’s dinner and something you’d probably never want to walk down. For further information the Save Our Spen is a must visit.
Previously on PathWatch we reported on the sad demise of Holmfirth Bridleway 94 which appears to have been subsumed into Windy Hill Quarry despite a lack of planning permission. Not to worry, the issue was reported as it was happening by many local users over a period from September 2021 onward. Oh hang on that’s wrong. Do worry, for neither Kirklees Planning or Rights of Way have taken any effective action on the ground over the intervening 8 months. This sort of situation always seems to blindside the bureaucrats. It’s not like problems of this nature haven’t happened before!
Kirklees Planning should have served a stop notice on the quarry last year as soon as they became aware of the works outside the quarry, on greenbelt land and on a public bridleway. This lack of action implies that planners aren’t that bothered and are happy to dump the issue on an overstretched Prow section. Meanwhile as can be seen above the bridleway is now unusable.
Ironically the Strategic Director who is responsible for Kirklees rights of way (Mr Parr) has recently been quoted in a propaganda article saying “We have nearly 1,900 PRoWs in the District, which our small team monitor. When residents tell us about the PRoWs being blocked or overgrown it is a great help.” Well lots of residents have contacted Kirklees about the loss of this bridleway and hardly anyone has heard a thing let alone get the bridleway back!
The article is here and of course it’s very good that a path has been cleared but the truth is this particular path was cleared fairly regularly prior to 2012 and there was never a problem with it until the council stopped doing it. Dealing with problems like Bridleway 94 and the many others featured on this blog requires a set of policies, procedures and resources to be directed promptly as issues arise. There is no good reason why Bridleway 94 should not have been reinstated within a 6 month timescale other than a complete lack of gumption and management at Kirklees which ultimately sits on Mr Parr’s doorstep.
Why not let Mr Parr know that Bridleway 94 is blocked – Colin.Parr@kirklees.gov.uk As he says “It’s a great help”
Kirklees have received a claim for an unrecorded Byway following an incident on the moors above Holmfirth. Emergency services were called when a large vehicle became stuck in one of the areas notorious peat bogs.
To the surprise of his would be rescuers the driver claimed to be enjoying an ancient pack horse route across the Pennines. The driver, a foreign national from the small Kirklees protectorate of Heckmondwike (like the Caymen islands but shit), insisted on continuing his journey in the hoof steps of pack horse ponies across the misty moors. “My 42 ton wagon does no more damage than walkers or horses because it has tyres” he said. “I’ve every right to be stuck here” he continued.
Kirklees have now commissioned external consultants at a cost of £289488529 per minute to investigate the drivers seemingly preposterous claims. A spokesperson from the council said “we treat all rights of way users equally, whether they drive polluting, damaging vehicles or just enjoy a quiet walk without bothering anybody. This approach has been very successful on Ramsden Road especially for vehicles!”
A swath of “green lanes” in the Holme Valley have recently been closed to 4x4s by Kirklees. The 3 closures are on a popular circuit for damaging 4×4 vehicles but this Bank Holiday Monday all is quiet. Scaly Gate, Cheese Gate Nabside and Scar End Lane are now physically blocked off and have temporary closure orders placed on them.
It is hoped that these closures will become permanent and that they will be shortly extended to cover Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes. This is a positive development for the area and those that enjoy non motorised use of the lanes or live nearby. It seems Kirklees are at last acknowledging the damage and nuisance caused by 4x4s and are now prepared to do something. 🙂
At yesterdays Heavy Woolen Planning Sub Committee members gave authority for an order to divert a short 17 metres of Batley 20. The effect of the order would turn the short section of path into an elongated marble run of ramps and steps totaling some 355 metres.
The order relates to a planning permission to construct a footbridge over the railway line so that the current manned level crossing can be closed. The matter received little scrutiny in terms of the length and inconvenience created by the proposals and was passed unanimously with councilors fully supporting the Network Rail proposals over the interests of the many people who regularly use this path.
Councillor Steve Hall was in good form and expressed his view on the proposal as “I don’t see any reason to spend to much time debating it”.
Kirklees will now make the order to divert Batley Footpath 20 which will be advertised and objections or comments can be made at that time. The council will forward the order to the Secretary of State should objections be made but will not argue for confirmation at any public inquiry. That will be Network rails job.
Kirklees are advertising a diversion order for Meltham Footpaths 26 & 79 at what is now the Morrisons store at Station Road, Meltham. This is the third attempt at diverting the two paths and is over 20 years on from an original Kirklees cock up. So, nicely matured but not in a good way.
The site was cleared by a developer in the late 1990’s. Kirklees granted a temporary closure for this work but looked the other way when the bridges carrying Footpaths 26 & 79 were removed along with all traces of the paths themselves. Kirklees continued to look the other way as planning permission for the store, carparks etc were fully implemented. Any complaints from the public about what was happening were ignored. Granting of the planning permission for this site did not give any legal authority for the removal of public footbridges and paths. This should have happened after a diversion order had been granted not before.
Of course development of the site has been both a great success and benefit to the area and of course both public footpaths needed to change to permit this. The question is why wasn’t this done to a high standard and with the public interest in mind 20 odd years ago?
The main issue with the diversion is that both footpaths 26 and 79 are being diverted onto an extensive flight of steps. In contrast both original paths negotiated this slope via footbridges and ramps in a much more direct manner. Footpath 79 is also diverted onto the Meltham Greenway which is shared with cyclists. The current width of Footpath 79 is 2.7 metres. The proposed new (shared) width is 2.5 metres. Arguably, these facts make the proposed new routes substantially less convenient than the original paths. You could have pushed a pram along either path in 1926 but not now in 2022.
In contrast Kirklees Council accepted in the case of Spenborough Footpath 110 (Spen Valley Leisure Centre) that a short flight of steps on the proposed diversion should be removed in favour of an improved gradient of not less than 1:12. Interestingly the council repeated the mistakes of the late 1990’s here by granting a temporary closure and then building on Spen 110. The diversion order has not yet been confirmed. Come back in 20 years 🙂 .
At a time when active travel is a priority it seems wrong to be making a barrier (the steps) on a traffic free route to a supermarket both legal and permanent which is what this order will do.
Any representations about or objections to the order may be sent or delivered in writing addressed to Harry Garland, Kirklees Council, Legal Services, PO Box 1720, Huddersfield, HD1 9EL no later than 29 April 2022. You should quote reference HG/D112-340 and state the grounds on which your objection/representation is made. Harry.Garland@kirklees.gov.uk
From today Kirklees residents can recycle unwanted local politicians in the green bins. Councillor Mather, Cabinet Member for the Environment said “This new service marks a big milestone in our aim to make Kirklees a pioneer in green practices that help sustain the environment. Many local politicians contribute to global warming by their unsustainable emissions and they can hang around in the environment for decades causing irritation and annoyance to ratepayers. From today they can be popped in any green bin in Kirklees and made into something useful. We will no longer be holding any local elections as we anticipate a 100% recycling rate.”
Did you miss it? Yes, Monday was National Weed Appreciation Day! This unhelpful Kirklees tweet (above) used the opportunity to get green fingered residents to sign up and put their weeds in brown bins to be taken away. This seems to fall well short of appreciating weeds but should be expected from a council that has a £258K Weed Killing Services Contract
All the weed killing service actually does is turn green flowering plants which support wildlife into dead brown plants alongside paths and roads. The public then ring up to complain about them!