Virgin Knackers.

Deceased stile.

A ladder stile on the popular Colne Valley Circular Walk has been out of repair for so long it has now largely decomposed in situ. A stark reminder of how seriously the council takes maintenance of public paths. This particular deceased stiles decline has been reported regularly over many years.

Perhaps there’s a role for private enterprise here in the form of a prow knacker man who could take fallen stiles and paths away for a small charge? Such a role would keep the countryside tidy and remove any signs of public access at the same time. Maybe Richard Branson could be persuaded to step in? “Virgin Knackers” has a certain ring to it…

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 135. Another Good Diversion Proposal.

Holmfirth Footpath 135

Another diversion proposal from Kirklees which tidies up a long standing issue on an intriguing little section of path. All of these old routes have an intrinsic value in themselves and it’s good to see this one being treated properly.

View the proposal here or on the Kirklees website . Comments are open until 2nd September 2021

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 .

4×4 News Round Up

An occasional series of snippets and comment on the mismanagement of byways & unsealed roads in Kirklees.

Previously on PathWatch we reported that Kirklees were taking the proposed permit scheme for Ramsden Road in house. This has now been confirmed in the updated omnishambles “consultation” information on the website. In a nutshell the council have chucked the cost of a couple of footbridges at a barrister to tell them something they already knew and then decided not to do it anyway! Fascinating how money is always available for this kind of thing isn’t it?

The real side splitter in the updates is this –

Why we did not initially make the full information available online, and have not withdrawn the order

There was a technical glitch that meant the full information was not available for some of the period of the consultation. Once this was recognised the order was re-advertised in the press and the full information was online, with the consultation period extended to ensure the full 21 days was available to comment.

That’s a rather generous way of describing the mother of all consultation cock ups! Ironically PathWatch was the only place the full info was available in the original consultation time period. The person at Kirklees who can upload of PDF’s to to the internet was perhaps really busy at the time or had forgotten the password.

Quads are now to be permitted under the order.Everyone knows all members of the public who use them off road are really responsible, like motorbike riders.

The Council proceeds to drive a coach and horses (see what I did there?) through it’s own arguments for making the order by saying –

Why we only show the routes and the points of access

The council has control of those areas. If somebody leaves that route they are then committing an offence, and any further damage or unauthorised access is a matter of criminal damage (if damage is caused) and trespass and is matter for the landowner and the Police.

The whole point of the PSPO was to tackle anti social behaviour in the form of off piste activity and dumping on adjacent land. If this order comes into force any vehicle indulging in off route activity cannot be issued with a fine under the terms of the PSPO. The police’s life would be made much easier if they could issue fines for off piste drivers under the terms of the order rather than prove criminal damage or have a landowner prove trespass. In other PSPO’s in Kirklees 3rd party land such as that of Yorkshire Water is included ie the bbq ban.

The order is useless in effect. So long as you have a permit to access the highways you can continue to drive off piste and not risk a fine. Motorbikes and quad bikes cannot be fined for off piste driving either. What’s the point?

There is no immediate prospect of the routes being repaired and it looks as if the PSPO will not come into force until 2022. Cocking up things to these degree can’t be rushed.

In other news the costs of an Experimental TRO on Castle Hill mount up with the installation of a lighting column and crash barriers. The Council have refused to disclose the costs of paying a security firm to open/close the gate daily for 18 months. Their first excuse was the “costs are being absorbed into an existing contract” but when asked to do better they came up with “disclosure is not in the public interest”. Aye, right. It must be around £40k by now? There are actually 5 PSPO’s in force on Castle Hill and one can only wonder just what anti social behaviour remains up there?

Lastly, it appears that Kirklees are about to place a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order on Cheesegate Nabside, banning 4×4’s. More on this in due course.

Holmfirth Footpath 73 Barbed Wire Removed.

Holmfirth 73 July 2020
Holmfirth 73 July 2021

It doesn’t look much but it represents 52 plus weeks of effort to get a nasty little 2 strand barbed wire fence removed from this delightful path. Don’t be fooled by the insulation over the wire, this was a real arse ripper.

However, it is now gone thanks to Kirklees who have cleared it completely and also strimmed the remainder of the path to make it accessible and easy to follow. This obstruction appeared shortly after an older obstruction was removed last summer.

500 New Path Signs For Kirklees!

Path signs are a legal requirement where a path leaves the public road.

In a very positive move Kirklees Council have bought enough signs and poles to erect 500 footpath/bridleway signs across the district. These signs are vital in indicating the existence of public paths where they leave the public road. Their presence gives confidence to members of the public and encourages use.

Well done Kirklees!

(Now might be a good time to let kirklees know of any missing signs via highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk ? )

Kirklees Make Modification Order Increasing Width Of Holmfirth 60 At Wolfstones.

Holmfirth Footpath 60

Kirklees Council have made an order to modify the Definitive Map & Statement in respect of Holmfirth Footpath 60. The order if, confirmed, would increase the width of the path to between 3 and 4 metres along the enclosed section of path off Wolfstones Road. This would reflect historical and contemporary use of the path by public users.

The order and associated documents can be viewed here

Holmfirth Cricket Club Footpath

It just so happens that one of the most well used public rights of way in the Holme Valley, the path to Sands Rec via the Cricket Club, has never been recorded on the Definitive Map for Kirklees.

Following the routes obstruction a claim was made by members of the public and Kirklees made an order in 2018. Inevitable objections were made but PathWatch is pleased to report light at the end of the tunnel (or possibly an oncoming train? Ed).

The Planning Inspectorate will now decide the case via written representations. Here’s the bumf from our man at the Ministry