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Why we did not initially make the full information available online, and have not withdrawn the order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

Kirklees To Run 4×4 Permit Scheme On Ramsden & Yateholme Lanes (?)

It’s taken Kirklees almost 4 months to answer a simple FOI relating to the proposed PSPO on Ramsden Road/Yateholme Lanes. The legal limit under legislation is 20 working days.

Answers contained in the FOI release seem to contradict the Council’s previously stated position that access to Ramsden Road/Yateholme Lanes “will be managed on the councils behalf”. The recent omnishambles of a public consultation led members of the public and the Parish Council to understand that a 4×4 representative group would undertake this role with only its members being eligible for a permit.

The Foi answers are as follows –

  1. Information on how members of the public can obtain a license to drive a vehicle in the exclusion area and what the cost of such a license will be.

A licence will be obtainable, free of charge, by contacting Kirklees Council. Information will appear on the website once it is made available.

.

  1. The costs to Kirklees Council of administering the license system and/or the costs to Kirklees Council of using a third party to administer the license system.

The cost is within the service and is not separately identifiable.

  1. Any correspondence or information held on negotiations with third parties in drawing up the licensing scheme.

The Scheme is in house.

Have the council moved away from a third party group with a few thousand members administering the scheme in favour of throwing the doors open to the 30 odd million registered vehicles in the UK and administering the permit scheme itself? I think we should be told.

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.

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.)

Kirklees Put Traffic Regulation Order On Byway!

Huddersfield Byway 170/10, Castle Hill.

In stark contrast to the Ramsden Road/Yateholme shenanigans Kirklees Council have made a Traffic Regulation Order to close Huddersfield Byway 170/10 overnight to vehicles. The order can be viewed here . A gate has been placed on site to physically restrict traffic and the council will pay a security firm to open and close the gate daily for a period of at least 18 months. It just goes to show that not all byways in Kirklees are equal.

On Castle Hill there is no arrangement on access for “responsible” users as proposed in the Ramsden Road/ Yateholme Public Space Protection Order. Good and bad alike are banned overnight from driving up to enjoy Huddersfield’s most iconic and popular landmark. Such is the council’s muddled approach to byways in the area.

Story reported in the Huddersfield Examiner

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.

Ramsden Road PSPO 3 – Lanes to close unless you’re in the club.

 

The PathWatch crystal ball was spot on in Ramsden Road Public Space Protection Order ? (2) . Kirklees Council are to put a Public Space Protection Order on Ramsden Road to partially restrict some vehicular access. This is to address an explosion in anti social behaviour they arguably created by not fully closing Ramsden Road to motor vehicles in 2018 due to errors in the Environmental Traffic Regulation Order. See here 

The PSPO is confirmed in a letter to Holmfirth Parish Council 3214-P._All-in-1   (document 51). Motor bikes will have 24/7 access. 4×4 vehicles will still have access which will be “managed” by the Green Lane Association. Make what you will of that but it’s not a solution to vehicular damage on the unsealed Ramsden Road and Yateholme Lanes caused by legal vehicular use. This will continue despite council officers views that “the issue at Ramsden road specifically is that the route is not being used illegally, there is a legal right for 4×4 usage, but it is that very allowed usage that has certainly contributed and exacerbated any issues with surface degradation.”(July 2018) 

Ironically the PSPO proposal completely denies access to horse drawn vehicles which established vehicular rights to these lanes in the dim and distant past. Our hapless bureaucrats have missed this one completely and it could conceivably lead to a further legal challenge. Do they ever learn?