More Off Road Chaos In Kirklees.

Live scenes from the middle of nowhere.

Kirklees have received a claim for an unrecorded Byway following an incident on the moors above Holmfirth. Emergency services were called when a large vehicle became stuck in one of the areas notorious peat bogs.

To the surprise of his would be rescuers the driver claimed to be enjoying an ancient pack horse route across the Pennines. The driver, a foreign national from the small Kirklees protectorate of Heckmondwike (like the Caymen islands but shit), insisted on continuing his journey in the hoof steps of pack horse ponies across the misty moors. “My 42 ton wagon does no more damage than walkers or horses because it has tyres” he said. “I’ve every right to be stuck here” he continued.

Kirklees have now commissioned external consultants at a cost of Β£289488529 per minute to investigate the drivers seemingly preposterous claims. A spokesperson from the council said “we treat all rights of way users equally, whether they drive polluting, damaging vehicles or just enjoy a quiet walk without bothering anybody. This approach has been very successful on Ramsden Road especially for vehicles!”

Heckmondwike
Caymen Islands

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. πŸ™‚

Quick Clean Up On Ramsden Road By Police & Kirklees.

West Yorkshire Police recovering stolen land rover on Ramsden Road

Saturday morning saw a stolen and burnt out land rover left up on Ramsden Road. It was recovered quickly by the police and taken away. Credit to Kirklees for cleaning up the debris on the Monday morning.

The left overs

All cleaned up by Kirklees within 48 hours

Glover Landscape Review – A Chance To End “Green Laning”?

Green Laning In The Holme Valley

Part of the consultation on the Glover Landscapes Review (questions 14 to 17) concern the possibility of additional restrictions on motor vehicle use on so called “green lanes”. Think of the atrocious damage to Ramsden Road and other local unsealed highways. The countryside would be a much better place with public motor vehicles legislated out of existence on these routes. The consultation provides a once in a lifetime chance to get across to the government the damage and nuisance these vehicles cause. The questions are cut and pasted below for information.

The survey itself is here Dead line 9th April 2022. You know what to do πŸ™‚

14.Should we give National Park Authorities and the Broads Authority and local
highway authorities additional powers to restrict recreational motor vehicle use on
unsealed routes? YES/NO/UNSURE
15.For which reasons should National Park Authorities, the Broads Authority and local
authorities exercise this power?
β€’ Environmental protection
β€’ Prevention of damage
β€’ Nuisance
β€’ Amenity
β€’ Other [PLEASE STATE]
16.Should we legislate to restrict the use of motor vehicles on unsealed unclassified
roads for recreational use, subject to appropriate exemptions? Yes – everywhere/
Yes – in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty only/Yes – in
National Parks only/No/Unsure
17.What exemptions do you think would be required to protect the rights and
enjoyment of other users e.g., residents, businesses etc?

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 Β£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.

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 Β£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.

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 Β£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 β€œThis 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 πŸ™‚

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?

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 Β£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.