Sentence For Obstructing A Public Footpath Now Up To 51 Weeks In Prison !

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 increased the penalty for obstruction of the highway to include a prison sentence not exceeding 51 weeks. The increase was the government’s response to obstruction of the highway by protesters, but insertion in Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 extends the penalty to obstruction of any public right of way, which would seem to be an unintended consequence benefiting Ramblers 🙂

Local authorities have always been very reluctant to prosecute landowners who obstruct footpaths claiming there’s no point. Imagine the deterrent effect of a few developers or landowners being banged up for a few months? Tough on crime and all that….

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.