Last Thing Huddersfield Needs?

Things can always get worse. It seems Barry Sheerman’s exit at the next election opens the door to our comedy council leader Shabir Pandor to make a play for the coveted safe labour seat. Come back Barry! All is forgiven!

In typically modest form the current council leader promises us the same energy and enthusiasm he has put into delivering success in Kirklees for the past 20 years.

Yes, it all passed me by too.

Second Public Inquiry Into Huddersfield Byway 231 To be Held In January 2023

A second public inquiry into the status of Huddersfield Byway 231 will be held in January 2023 by the Planning Inspectorate. Kirklees had a second go at downgrading the Byway to Bridleway with this order in 2020. The saga of how Kirklees have mismanaged this case is the gold standard of cock ups which keeps on giving and contributes to hard up barristers and expert witnesses on a regular basis. The route is blocked of course and has been unusable by the public now for many years. No surprises there.

Here is the inquiry notice

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”

SBS In Action – 4×4 Seized On Local Lane.

The elite SBS (like the SAS but for bridleways) have been in action in the Holmfirth area seizing an illegal 4×4 with only their bare hands and elderly pit ponies from Barnsley.

Sgnt. Harvey “Blunty” Smith who leads the crack squad told us “We were the only squad with the capability to operate in this weeks 300 mph winds. Equipped as we are in all weather leotards we sent out our heaviest officer PC Enormous Haystacks on his two pit ponies. PC Haystacks grappled the 4×4 onto our break down truck and it was job done. The two pit ponies did blow away but were found the next day in a shed near Marsden”.

2026 Cut Off Date For Historical Evidence Dropped!

Defra has advised the stakeholder group on public rights of way that the controversial 2026 cut off date in the Crow Act will be dropped. This is very good news and more details to follow.

Sections 53 to 56 of the CRoW Act set out the process for claiming old, unclaimed historic rights of way—crucially, with a cut-off date of 1 January 2026. Any that have not been claimed by then will cease to exist for ever, although with the possibility under Section 56 of an extension by regulations to 2036

From Defra

“We are writing to you today to inform you about important changes to the rights of way package of reforms. We have communicated these changes to the Stakeholder Working Group and will continue to work with them going forward.

The rights of way reforms package has been underway for many years and whilst much progress has been made for which we are grateful to the Stakeholder Working Group and others, the legislation required to implement these reform measures is not yet ready to be laid and considerable work remains to complete this work. Defra has therefore decided on a pragmatic approach to take the package forward. We have decided to progress the Right to Apply and Cost Recovery SIs only and to repeal the 2026 cut-off date. We feel that this strikes some balance across stakeholder concerns and interests, while recognising that it doesn’t deliver on all the benefits originally envisaged.

We remain committed to seeking to make improvements to rights of way processes and procedures where possible and appropriate to do so and would welcome your continued advice and support with this endeavour.”

Holmfirth Cricket Club Path – Planning Inspectorate Confirm Order!

In some very good news the Planning Inspectorate have confirmed Kirklees Council’s order to add a Restricted Byway to the Definitive Map between Bridge Lane and Sands Recreation Ground in Holmfirth. This is and has been one of the most popular public rights of way in the valley and everyone knew that.

The path wasn’t on the Kirklees records and has been on an 11 year journey of obstruction and bureaucracy to reach refuge on the Definitive Map. Huge credit to the applicant who doggedly pursed the matter and the hundred plus public witness statements which provided the overwhelming evidence of a public right of way! Good work everyone 🙂

Previous PathWatch post/rants on this issue here , here , and here

A wider look at “Green Lane” Vehicular Damage Via Peak District Green Lanes Alliance.

The latest newsletter from Peak District Green Lane Alliance highlights many problems caused by vehicular access to unsealed byways & roads. Even when repaired the techniques used are often aesthetically incompatible with the countryside.

Holmfirth Footpath 60 Wolfstones s247

Holmfirth Footpath 60

The public Inquiry into the proposed stopping up and diversion of Holmfirth 60 takes place on 23rd of August. The Department of Transport publish documents relating to the inquiry here and it is regularly updated.

This process is funded by the taxpayer. So if you want to see what your money is spent on, are interested in the path or just can’t sleep, it’s worth a read.

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.