Back in October 2020 PathWatch reported on the complete destruction of Meltham Bridleway 50. Kirklees and the Peak District National Park as Highway and Planning Authorities bestowed those responsible with the usual largess. Between them they managed to turn a blind eye for over 2 years.
When pushed Kirklees still preferred not to take the enforcement action required but allowed the responsible party time to submit a planning application to the Peak Park. This, supposedly, will sort things out and the landowners will get a vehicular road over the bridleway as a bonus.
Kirklees have made assurances that the bridleway will be reinstated by the end of June 2023 but this looks increasingly unlikely given the pit falls of the planning process.
The planning application is now live for public comment. This is the only opportunity to influence reinstatement of the bridleway and make it more bridleway less road.
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.
Certain local footpaths are well used by mountain bikers and by and large I don’t particularly have a problem with it. I’m usually happy to step aside and let them keep momentum going. There aren’t enough off road routes for cyclists or equestrians.
There has been a noticeable increase of late in mountain bike use of local Crow access land ie not on a public footpath but on private property. Much of this land is sensitive high peat moorland and vulnerable to damage. Indeed the cyclist shown in the photograph is on Crow access land at Holme Moss which is currently being restored by Moors For The Future. Grazing has been suspended at this site and there’s a huge investment in repairing the ecological damage to improve biodiversity and mitigate climate change. We watched this guy enjoy riding down a recently restored peat bank where upon he came within spitting distance of us. Seemingly oblivious to the bigger picture.
Ramsden Clough (Crow access land) is also beginning to suffer from damage by mountain bike use. The area into the clough from the peat pits and from Ramsden Road is covered in bike tyre tracks. Most times I am up there there are mountain bikers around enjoying the “tech” as they say.
All this use is questionable at the best of times but for it to continue and seemingly increase during the current Covid 19 restrictions ? 🙂
Readily available information on who can use Crow access land in the Peak Park is here