Swellands & Black Moss Road Proposal Refused By Peak Park

Swellands Reservoir

Previously on PathWatch we highlighted an environmentally damaging proposal to construct a permanent vehicular access track to Black Moss & Swellands Reservoirs in the Kirklees bit of the Peak Park.

The proposal was turned down at the Peak Park Planning Committee on 6th August 2021 on the following grounds.

  1. The public safety issue does not create an Imperative Reason of Over-riding Public Interest justifying a permanent track through the Natural Zone;
  2. Alternative solutions have not been explored thoroughly enough given what is understood to be required (in terms of building work and regular maintenance) such that  the requirement to demonstrate that there are no alternative solutions has not been fully made out to the satisfaction of members, in particular by use of a temporary track; and
  3. Insufficient satisfaction that the proposals would result in acceptable impacts on this peatland habitat and in particular on nesting birds.

The committee item can be viewed here . Well done to the Peak District National Park!

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.

Ramsden Road/Yateholme PSPO Full Info Available

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.

The Great PROW Swindle

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.

Original Survey Sheet Holmfirth FP 66 records the route as a 12 foot wide RUPP
Second Survey Sheet for Holmfirth 66 records route as a Rupp up 9 feet wide.

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.

Ramsden Road/Yateholme Public Space Protection Order Consultation.

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.

Ramsden Road/Yateholme Public Space Protection Order Advertised On 1st April

From the local press

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.)

Ramsden Rd/Yateholme Lanes. Kirklees Early Consultations.

Ramsden Road AFTER the £15k repairs in 2020

The email below has been provided by Kirklees in response to a Freedom of Information request asking for information on the informal consultations Kirklees have carried out with “relevant stakeholders” regarding a proposed Public Space Protection Order partially restricting some vehicular use on Ramsden Road & the Yateholme Lanes.

The only written correspondence which outlines the proposal is an email to the Green Lane Association who represent motor vehicle users. In contrast local residents and non motorised users who are asking to be involved at this early stage to shape the outcome of the process (in line with the statutory guidelines) are being completely ignored.

Any competent authority acting in the public interest would put the proposal in writing to as wide an audience as possible and invite comment. The fact that Kirklees have not done this and are deliberately excluding a wide range of genuinely interested parties (non motorised users, residents etc.) is worthy of explanation. Don’t hold your breath though.

From: xxxxx@kirkees.gov
To: xxxxxx.rep@glass-uk.org
Cc: row;
Subject: RE: Ramsden Road
Date: 21 January 2021 08:55:00
Dear XXXX,
The proposal is really simple below is what I sent to Cllrs for their views
The introduction of a Public Space Protection Order that will limit the access by 4 wheeled vehicles with the intention that this is to prevent unregulated 4×4 activity.
The order will allow the gating of the access points on Brownlee Lane, Ramsden Road and Rake Head Road – with access arrangements in place for all those who require access such as landowners and their representatives
such as gamekeepers , Yorkshire water and the fishing club, in addition the order will not prevent access by other user types, such a trail bikes, mountain bikes, horse riders and walkers.
It is further proposed that this is not a complete ban, but a means of regulation of access by recreational 4×4 use, so working with Glass agree a permit system where access is permitted under certain conditions, so consideration to the hours of access, the weather conditions and the numbers per day, and per group, all with the intention of reducing the ASB element, and if people do feel the need to either travel off route, or drive in a fashion that is unacceptable then they can easily be identified There have been further incidents last night where walls have been damaged to access fields to drive round, so I would appreciate a discussion sooner rather than later if possible please, as I really do want to work with all the responsible stakeholders to reach a pragmatic and workable solution.
Regards

Ramsden Road & Yateholme PSPO Kirklees Approach Compared To Erewash Council.

The Kirklees Pound Shop TRO will not stop motorbikes on Ramsden Road.

 

It’s always good to compare the practice of different local authorities on similar issues. As luck would have it Erewash Borough Council in Derbyshire is currently in the process of consulting and drafting a Public Space Protection Order for an unmade lane in it’s area (Brackley Gate,Morley & Moor Lane, Little Eaton). The lane has been subject to alleged anti social behaviour associated with vehicular use along the same lines as Ramsden Road & the Yateholme Lanes in Kirklees.

The approach of Erewash Borough council is strikingly different to that of secretive Kirklees. Erewash have produced an extensive report for consideration by the Council Executive. The report can be viewed here Public Spaces Protection Order and it is worth a read to see an authority and it’s officers having a decent go at being open, accountable and acting in the public interest on an often contentious subject.

The report details extensive informal consultations carried out with residents and other interested parties. This is really crucial to establishing the degree of the anti social problem and whether or not a PSPO is the right answer. It’s clear in the Erewash case that everyone with an interest has been involved informally and this information along with more formal evidence of police involvement is there in the report. This is a good example of an authority following the statutory guidance for making PSPO’s. It puts the council and public in a robust position prior to a formal consultation.

In Kirklees the Ramsden Road/Yateholme Lanes PSPO came to public attention entirely by accident towards the end of January 2021. Kirklees managers refuse point blank to informally consult with any local residents in the area or any interested user groups or individuals who use the lanes apart from The Green Lane Association, who represent motor vehicle users. Indeed Kirklees have said of walkers that “We are being very clear who is within scope and that does not include walkers”. Despite numerous emails and phone calls from people interested in contributing the council will not engage.

A freedom of information request asking Kirklees to disclose who has been informally consulted and where the PSPO idea originates has yet to be answered and is now outside the legal timescale. Kirklees have been unable to provide any details on it’s current procedure for making a PSPO beyond saying it’s a “delegated officer” decision. However, no documentation has been provided to date to show this is the case. The Kirklees approach is inexplicable when compared to the Erewash case.

These PSPO’s are increasingly seen as cheap and cheerful Pound Shop Traffic Regulation Orders by some authorities. Perhaps that’s the attraction to Kirklees who displayed a shocking degree of incompetence when they made an erroneous TRO in 2018?

Sadly a Pound Shop TRO is not the answer for Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes. They will remain open to all motorbikes at all times and to 4×4’s some of the time under the Pound Shop TRO. This will permit continued damage to the fabric of the lanes and the amenity of the area. Perhaps this is why Kirklees managers wish to sneak this through with minimum scrutiny ?

Ramsden Road – Excuses, Oil & Fuel Spills From 4×4’s & Walkers Not Included.

Ramsden Road, Holmfirth

Of late Kirklees Council have deployed the “we’re waiting for Yorkshire Water” excuse to any enquiries on the 25 year wait for repairs to Ramsden Road. It’s as lame as these excuses come and only serves to highlight the hapless council’s contempt for the public .

PathWatch has asked Yorkshire Water if they’d like to hurry up or if ,in fact, the council’s excuse is more in the “dog ate my homework, sir” category. In a very helpful response they have said that they’ve asked Kirklees for dates for a site visit and are actually waiting for them to respond.

They go on to say that as Ramsden Road carries motor vehicles their Water Quality Team are concerned that any drainage system Kirklees puts in does not channel water and any fuel/oil spill directly into the reservoir system. This is something Kirklees have never mentioned.

This is very sensible from Yorkshire Water and it highlights the lengths Kirklees Council are going to in order to keep the 4×4 lobby happy. Ramsden Road has never had such a drainage system in its history. Such a closed system will inevitably be far more costly and technically difficult to provide than the primitive drainage which 4×4’s have destroyed.

This is probably a good point to mention that the status of Ramsden Road is a Byway Open To All Traffic. As such it is recognised that historical vehicular rights exist dating back to the days of horse drawn carts etc. Such ways were recorded on Definitive Maps to both protect them and because their use was primarily that of bridleway ie used mostly by non motorised users such as walkers, riders and cyclists. Such use does not result in the degree of degradation caused by 4×4’s. It does not cost the public anything like the amounts involved in restoring the way for vehicle use. Nor are non motorised users a risk to the Holme Valley water supply.

Kirklees has seriously lost it’s way with Ramsden Road ( Really? Ed) and is giving priority to 4×4 motor vehicles at the expense of non motorised users. It’s proposed Public Space Protection Order will still permit motor vehicle use and the inevitable damage/pollution that goes with it. The hold up in a scheme of repairs seems partly due to having to provide a sealed drainage system to prevent oil/fuel leaks from 4×4’s entering the local water system.

The council’s disdain for non motorised users is summed up in its approach to the Public Space Protection Order proposal. The legislation and statutory guidance surrounding such orders emphasises “putting victims first”. In this respect pedestrians on Ramsden Road certainly fit the bill. The surface and drainage has been destroyed by 4×4’s, there is broken glass,lights and plastic all over the place, fly tipping, dangerous driving etc etc All this makes Ramsden Road an unpleasant place to be for pedestrians because of motor vehicles.

However, Kirklees managers don’t see it like this. According to them walkers in the PSPO process“are not an affected stakeholder” and they go on to say “We are being very clear who is within scope and that does not include walkers”. It does,of course, include 4×4 user groups and their representatives. At least, for the very first time, this is an honest answer.

Planning Application For Permanent Vehicular Access To Black Moss & Swellands.

Swellands reservoir.

A planning application has been submitted to the Peak Park by The Canal & Rivers Trust to build a road into Black Moss & Swellands Reservoir from the A62. This quiet area has no vehicle access and the character of the moors here will be changed by a development on this scale. The Pennine Way and many informal paths are directly affected. The proposal can be viewed here https://portal.peakdistrict.gov.uk/02210110 Comments on the application are open until 12th March 2021.