On a wet foggy walk it is easy to pinpoint Ramsden Road through the gloom. Just walk towards the loud high pitched sounds of motorbikes over revving as they destroy the local countryside. Hey presto you end up on the Somme like byway which lies within the Peak District National Park near Holmfirth. This unintended navigation aid could be seen as one of the few positive benefits of off roading. Though a map and compass are more environmentally friendly.
A staggering level of incompetence from Kirklees Council and political interference from a couple of councillors have permitted the byway and adjacent land to continue to be trashed by vehicles. There is seemingly no end in sight to the environmental damage.
Both Kirklees Council and Holme Valley Parish Council have declared climate emergencies and are committed to making the area more walker friendly. Kirklees go as far as saying they wish to make the area a great place to walk and cycle! Hard to believe that when looking at these photos. Both council’s, and to some degree the Peak District National Park, stand by and look on, enabling this environmental degradation to continue.
The vehicles that use Ramsden Road are more often than not aging 4×4’s pumping out black diesel fumes along with particulates from brakes and clutches. Nasty stuff for anything that breathes. These vehicles travel from all over the uk to pollute and damage the countryside here in the Peak District. It’s low hanging fruit for any council half serious about cutting emissions and protecting the local environment.
A permanent Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting motor vehicles from Ramsden Road ( and all other surrounding off road highways) would have an immediate effect in reducing pollution, carbon emissions and improving the amenity value of the right of way for walkers,riders and cyclists. It would also meet the National Parks aims of both “quiet enjoyment” by the public and conservation. Removing vehicles permanently is the only realistic way to achieve this and allow the environment to recover.
Previously on PathWatch we’ve reported on the poor finishing off and functionality of the new culverts on Ramsden Road. After meeting a senior Kirklees Councillor on site some progress has been made. A number of the culverts have now been lined with stone & fenced off. The culvert which was already eroding back has been retained with stone (first photo). Whilst only 3 of the 8 culverts work correctly this modest progress is welcome.
Delighted to report that Holmfirth Byway 182 at the foot of Holme Moss has had substantial surface repairs and drainage works. It looks a good quality job which will benefit a wide range of users and not least the humble pedestrian. Thank you to the Kirklees frontline staff involved in this 🙂
Most of the damage to this byway has been caused by off road vehicles which inflicted deep ruts and craters on the surface and destroyed the drainage in the usual manner. Much damage has and is being done by these vehicles to adjacent land,all within the Peak District National Park. See photos at the foot of this piece.
Byway 182 is less than a mile away from the foot of the Ramsden Road Byway. It is interesting to compare and contrast how they have been dealt with. Ramsden Road is a 20 year saga of failure from Kirklees. There have been petitions for banning vehicles, reports to committee, aborted Traffic Regulation Orders,weak management, failed works,public meetings,interference from councillors supporting the motor vehicle lobby, £30k spent in the past 2 years (which has achieved very little) and laterly the formation of a friends group.
In contrast Byway 182 was reported as being out of repair less than 2 years ago. It has now been repaired to a good standard without any fuss.
Ramsden Road Phase 1 is complete. Right on cue some wet weather arrived at the end of last week. The first 2 new culverts off Whitegate Road worked fine but every other drainage intervention from there to the end of the flat section had some problems. Fair enough there are bound to be some matters to address after any works on a site like this. However, I think the road is arguably worse now than previously (apart from the filled in craters).The poor quality of the drainage works has the potential to cause further damage if not addressed.The photos speak for themselves. This is after one wet day in June.
You’d be daft to carry out any works on the Hill on the basis that drainage works above are completed and working.
Following on from Ramsden Road. What’s Not Been Done. The following photos show the current state of Ramsden Road where it has been repaired & drained at a cost of £15k. Even after a modest amount of rain it clearly isn’t working. There is also damage by motorbikes to the new surface and fly tipping. Good money is being thrown after bad here and it is painful to watch.
Kirklees Council continue slipping discs bending over backwards to keep the Ramsden Road Byway open to damaging 4×4 vehicles,motorbikes and all the associated anti social behaviour that goes with this usage. However at the other end of the valley they are bending over backwards to…er…close Huddersfield Byway 171 because of …ahem….anti social behaviour,crime and damage associated with vehicular use!
Byway 171 is the popular vehicular access up onto Castle Hill and it has been reported this week that Kirklees will be erecting bollards and signs closing the byway overnight to motor vehicles. The issue was discussed at Kirklees Cabinet on 2nd June. What hasn’t been reported or discussed in detail is the legal mechanism by which the council could achieve this aim. Remember how the council legal department cocked up with the Temporary Traffic Regulation Order for Ramsden Road? This ultimately led to the “Friends” group approach.
Will the doggers & pikers of Huddersfield form a “Friends With Benifits”” group to save the Castle Hill byway? That might be one worth joining 🙂
This post takes a critical look at Kirklees recent works on Ramsden Road. There is no criticism of the contractors or front line council staff here. Both have done a job within the remit given to them. It’s not what’s been done that’s the problem but what has not been done.
The reinstatement of a 1000m of drain and 8 culverts is long overdue and a positive step. These drains and culverts will need regular inspection and maintenance to keep them working though. That’s something Kirklees are not good at.
Filling the large deep craters at the start of Ramsden Road has been done well.
Beyond the large craters very little of the road surface has been repaired and remains out of repair. If you are on foot, an equestrian or cyclist barely half a metre of the 9m width of the road is safely or conveniently usable from the end of Crossley’s Plantation north west to the start of the hill. Thats over 500m.The first photo below shows the condition of this section and the following one shows an intact area of lane for comparison. Pedestrians or anyone with a disability have been give little or no consideration here.
The original tender document Ramsden Road HW and plan RamsdenRoad,Holmfirth specifies that “Locally sourced 100/150mm clean sandstone to be laid and compacted in the low areas to bring these areas back up to adjacent ground level.” However most of Ramsden Road remains well below the adjacent ground level and in some places is below the newly cleared drain. As can be seen from the photos below. Water falling on the road cannot shed into the drain quickly but must travel on the lane to one of the basic “grips” cut into the verge. This is not a good way to deal with water and will likely lead to continuing erosion in itself without the help of vehicles. The original surface of the road was stone macadem ie tightly compacted stone. This had a “crown” (highpoint) at the centre which shed water immediately into the adjacent drains. As it stands Ramsden Road will continue to largely act as it’s own drain.
Ramsden Road needs bringing back up to it’s original levels with a substantial sub base and cambered or crowned surface to shed water alongside the 1000m of drain and further reinstatement of the drain to the north side of the road. Without this it cannot withstand the pressure from vehicle use.
This is a failure of management on the councils part. The councils original stated view is that legitimate 4×4 use of the road causes damage and that any works to repair the road need protecting from this use. In an unrecorded “officer” decision the council then moved to wanting sustainable and equitable use of the lane for all users. The works that have been carried out fall well short of achieving this (particularly for pedestrians). The recent works have cost some £15k out of a rights of way budget of £50k. The council has already spent around £10k on aborted legal orders and other works here. Clearly messing about in this way is expensive and a drain on very limited Prow resources. The fact that it hasn’t sorted out the problem is disappointing.
Its raining! Just a little bit but as you can see from the photo below there’s already water accumulating on Ramsden Road (for the reasons outlined above). Get some vehicles going on this and the cycle of damage continues.
There’s already evidence of vehicular damage to the new works. A motor bike has been flying up and down at speed kicking up the newly laid surface and allowing water in. The erosion process begins again. A motor bike and some mountain type bikes have also been riding in the new drain!
The end of a section of drain has been left open and will be discharging a considerable amount of water back onto Ramsden Road at the top of the hill.
Ramsden Road,even allowing for these works, is in a much worse overall condition now than in December 2017 when the council first became involved in the latest chapter of chucklebrotheresque nonsense. The hill at the end of the flat section has deteriorated spectacularly since that time and continues to do so. There is no plan for the council to repair it.
The works to Ramsden Road have got off to a good start. Really pleased to see a 1000m or so of reinstated drain on the moorland side of the road. Also about 8 reinstated culverts to connect this into adjacent land drains so water can get away. This will make such a difference. Excess soil from the ditching is being very carefully placed in the old parish quarry which will also improve this area.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has directly intervened in the long running Ramsden Road fiasco. Previously on PathWatch we reported that the planned Ramsden Road works had been delayed as a consequence of Covid 19 and furloughing of the councils chosen contractors. However the Prime Ministers widely derided speech of 10th May urging the great British Worker to get off his or her backside and back to work seems to have done the trick. Contractors are now on site working on Ramsden Road 🙂
The Councils planned repairs to the top section of Ramsden Road which were due to be undertaken in April/May 2020 are now delayed due to furloughing of the chosen contractors.
This marks yet another twist in the authorities complete inability to repair and maintain this popular public highway. The Council has known about the state of Ramsden Road for over 20 years and successfully managed to ignore it throughout that time.
PathWatch first became involved in trying to get something done in 2017. I met the Greenspace Manager from Kirklees on site in December 2017. He was very clear that 4×4 vehicles were causing the extensive damage and that they “must” be taken off the lane prior to the council undertaking repairs. To that end the Greenspace Manager commissioned an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order which would ban motor vehicles from the route for 18 months. During that time period the council would survey,repair and monitor the site prior to taking off the restrictions, if appropriate.
The legal order cost £6k. The works on site to physically close the route in November 2018 cost £2.5K. Unfortunately the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was full of errors and unenforceable. Any reputable public authority would have corrected the errors and continued but Kirklees abandoned the process. They say the decision to abandon the ETRO process was a delegated officer decision. Yet they have no record of this decision.It appears to have been made outside the Councils constitution and the legal requirements councils are obliged to operate within. This has led us all around the houses to where we are now ie continued and expensive vehicular damage to Ramsden Road, a postponed scheme to repair the top section and no plan at all to repair the hazardous downhill section.
Had the Council done its job properly Ramsden Road would have been closed to motor traffic for 18 months from December 2018. In that time the council would have repaired the entire route which would now be due to reopen to all traffic in just a few weeks time.
However we are stuck in the Kirklees Komedy Klub with few laughs and no end in sight to the tedious chuckle broteresque escapades.