Ex Holmfirth Bridleway 94 – Things Can Only Get..Er…Worse.

Ex Holmfirth Bridleway 94.

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”

Popular 4×4 Routes Closed Around Holmfirth.

Scaly Gate.

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. 🙂

PUBLIC FOOTPATH DIVERSION ORDER HIGHWAYS ACT 1980 KIRKLEES COUNCIL (MELTHAM PUBLIC FOOTPATH 26 (PART) AND MEL THAM PUBLIC FOOTPATH 79 (PART) AT WM MORRISON STORE, STATION STREET, MELTHAM) PUBLIC PATH DIVERSION ORDER 2022

The paths as they were in 1926.

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.

Aerial photo from 2000 and the paths have gone:-)

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

Footpaths 26 & 79 will be diverted onto these steps.

New Police Special Bridleways Service Launched in Yorkshire.

The new WYP Bridleways Enforcement Team For Holmfirth

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.

Harvey & SBS In Training at The George Hotel, Huddersfield.

Ex Holmfirth Bridleway 94

Holmfirth BW 94 was at the bottom of the walls.

There have been increasing problems of obstruction and surface damage to Holmfirth Bridleway 94 since Kirklees granted planning permission to permit more quarry HGV access to the site. User groups made some reasonable comments on this application at the time, suggesting a speed limit, signage and a priority system putting non motorised users at the top. All ignored,of course.

Although the bridleway forms access to the quarry it is outside the red line boundary of the planning applications. There has been no planning application as far as PathWatch can see for any works to Bridleway 94. Although the quarry sites are industrial, Bridleway 94 remains in the greenbelt.

Difference in levels very clear in this photo.

It is something of a surprise then to see that the bridleway is being subject to some civil engineering works to both widen it and lower the level by up to 3 metres in places. Ironically in the supporting information for the planning application the applicant states “the HGV access route (bridleway 94) contains grass verges on both sides providing step off areas for pedestrians and cyclists should a HGV be travelling along the track.” These verges are now either 2 metres or more in the air or gone. The bridleway sign has also disappeared.

There’s some rather large plant operating on the bridleway at present with no consideration at all for the safety of public users.

Red line planning boundary. Bridleway is clearly outside this.

Yet another example, if one were needed, of Kirklees not properly considering public rights of way in the planning process. The bridleway is barely mentioned and clearly not seen as a valuable public amenity. There’s nothing put in place to protect the route and as everyone knows Kirklees are useless at enforcement be it in planning or public rights of way.

Bridleway 94

PathWath will report further on this issue but suspect Kirklees will deal with genuine public concerns via the usual evasion, incompetence and platitudes.

Useful information – Planing Enforcement highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk Ward Councillors

See below for ignored comment on Planning Application.

Missing In Batley. Have You Seen Footpath No.5 ?

Photofit of Batley 5 drawn onto Google Maps.

Described as about 330 metres long and a metre wide, Batley Footpath 5 was reported missing some years ago. Police are becoming increasingly concerned about the right of ways whereabouts since it was last seen disappearing into the undergrowth by the M62. Experts into the many “disappeared” paths in Kirklees fear Batley 5 may have been kidnapped or groomed into becoming a Light Goods Vehicle Training yard.

If you have any information about Batley Footpath 5 please contact highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk

Ruts R Us.

Fuel spill on Ramsden road.

The decades long mismanagement of Ramsden Road continues apace into 2022. Kirklees committed to close the road to damaging 4×4 vehicles and to repair it in 2018. It cocked up the legal order (after spending £10 grand on it) and ran away. A year ago it came up with a quick and cheap fix in the form of a public space protection order to be implemented in Spring 2021. This order has not yet come into force, largely because Kirklees don’t know what they are doing and seemingly have no mechanism for making such orders .

Had the order now been in place no vehicles would be permitted at all on Ramsden Road throughout the winter months. As it is so called “responsible” laners continue to use the road in all weathers and seasons. Lets be honest here, anyone driving a vehicle or motorbike on Ramsden Road in it’s current condition is irresponsible and is actively contributing to the continued destruction of the road to the detriment of non motorised users, residents and the environment. Predictably, the damage continues at an alarming pace and the road is now beyond any simple cost effective repair.

Fun fact, byways were originally recorded on Definitive Maps as routes mostly used by the public for the purposes of footpaths and bridleways ie walking and riding. Although the status acknowledged historical vehicular rights this was not the main public usage and of course the convoys of modern 4×4 vehicles now afflicting such lanes was unforeseeable in 1949.

A safe prediction for 2022 is that Ramsden Road will be worse by the end of it. The year has already started off badly with the Ruts R Us brigade extending their off piste activities into a new area on Footpath 175 just above Tinker Well – a private water supply. Another safe bet is that Kirklees Council, the Highway Authority with a statutory duty to maintain the Road, will do nothing. Having more or less exchanged bodily fluids with Ruts R Us over the past 3 years their position is more knackered than Ramsden Road itself.

Responsible use?

In addition to the new Ruts R Us off piste facility a fuel or oil leak has left a rainbow of filth washing down Ramsden Road. Attentive readers may recall that in addition to private water supplies in the area there are 2 public reservoirs below Ramsden Road into which run off from the road inevitably ends up. Quiet rightly, Yorkshire Water are requiring any repairs to the road include a sealed drainage system to ensure run off from the road cannot enter the public water supply as it can do now. That will be an incredible cost to the public to construct and maintain.

The only reason any of this happening is because Kirklees failed to follow the correct procedure when making an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order in 2018 which would have taken all public motor vehicles off Ramsden Road. This mistake has spawned a cock up pandemic without end.

Lady Ann Crossing & Batley Footpath 20.

Lady Ann Crossing & Batley 20 (image Google Earth)

Batley isn’t perhaps the first town in the borough you might go looking for a rural idyll but Lady Ann Crossing on Batley Footpath 20 is a bit of the Railway Children hanging on in the 21st century. Question is, for how much longer?

At the moment the signal box is staffed and path users can cross when it’s safe to do so. The signaler unlocks the gates and waves you through. A near perfect way to cross a live railway line. However, the fat controller wants to remove the current level crossing and staff as part of plans to “upgrade” the line which involve electrification and more trains.

There is currently a planning application for the works associated with removing the crossing and building a footbridge over the line which involves the rather fanciful diversion of Batley 20. See plan below.

The diversion proposal involves turning a straight forward 17m walk over the crossing into a convoluted marble run of 255m via steps or 355m via ramps. The inconvenience speaks for itself here and requires little further illumination.

Comments are open until 6th January 2022 via publicrightsofway@kirklees.gov.uk

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.