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.

Planning Application For Permanent Vehicular Access To Black Moss & Swellands.

Swellands reservoir.

A planning application has been submitted to the Peak Park by The Canal & Rivers Trust to build a road into Black Moss & Swellands Reservoir from the A62. This quiet area has no vehicle access and the character of the moors here will be changed by a development on this scale. The Pennine Way and many informal paths are directly affected. The proposal can be viewed here https://portal.peakdistrict.gov.uk/02210110 Comments on the application are open until 12th March 2021.

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? 

 

Kirklees To Repair Ramsden Road With Excuses!

In a startling announcement Kirklees Council have revealed that works to repair the badly damaged Ramsden Road will begin next week. A groundbreaking new technique is to be used on the byway which the council have spent several decades destroying.

A spokesman for the council told PathWatch “Although we live in challenging times and have diminishing resources for this kind of work we recently realised that we are resource rich in excuses. As it seems to be the only thing we never run out of we’ve decided to use our excuse bank to resurface Ramsden Road. The top section is relatively straightforward and we can use “We’re waiting for Yorkshire Water” on most of this. However on the steep slope we will need to use a large amount of “austerity” based excuses mixed with some old reliables like “Foot & Mouth”, “Finite budget”, “Competing demands” and “Resource envelopes”. So, some real heavyweight surfacing going on there.”

The council spokesman added that “using excuses like this fits with our green and renewable agenda. The real beauty of using excuses in a sensitive area like Ramsden Road is they blend into the countryside. I’d go as far as saying you can see right through them.”

Ramsden Road Public Space Protection Order ? (2)

Ramsden Road

Further to Ramsden Road – Public Space Protection Order? it’s worth highlighting the guidance from the Local Government Association which sensibly suggests to local authorities that “it is useful for local areas to seek early contact with interest groups when scoping their proposals, to help identify how best to approach a particular issue, before the formal statutory consultation takes place” Sensible guidance indeed.

The legislation is all about putting the victim first too. So you might reasonably expect a local authority would involve those affected by the anti social behaviour and get their views to help form the solution. In the case of Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes that would be local residents,farmers, fishing club,shoot, walkers, cyclists,riders, parish council and the dreaded off roaders.

Things are different here in this corner of West Yorkshire. Kremlin Kirklees claims to have consulted “key stakeholders” but despite being asked on several occasions it has declined to identify who those “key stakeholders” are. It certainly doesn’t include local residents in the area whose lives are blighted by 4×4 drivers. It doesn’t include walking groups or equestrian groups who Kremlin Kirklees have point blank refused to provide any information to. Kremlin Kirklees have been asked if any national organisations representing 4×4 drivers have been involved in the process. They haven’t answered.

Kremlin Kirklees will miss a lot of good and possibly alternative ideas of dealing with Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes (like a TRO. Ed) but lets face it they don’t want to know.

The PathWatch theory is as follows. Kremlin Kirklees already have a done deal with an as yet unidentified 4×4 users group to close Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes to motor vehicles. The pay off for the as yet unidentified 4×4 user group is that their paid up members retain access via a key or access code system. Kremlin Kirklees is not really acting in the public interest in this theory and needs a PSPO to facilitate some continued 4×4 use of the lanes rather than solving the many problems these vehicles create once and for all.

Is this a good deal for Kirklees rate payers who would still be liable to pay for the damage these vehicles cause? In effect the lanes would be open to 4×4 users on a private members club basis with the public picking up the tab. A Traffic Regulation Order banning all public motor vehicle use would be far more effective. It would remove all the vehicle related anti social behaviour, remove all the vehicular damage (which is extensive) and it would restore the amenity value of the area for residents and non motorised users. A PSPO may have some effect on a proportion of anti social behaviour around vehicles. Far less effective than a full TRO.

PathWatch may be wrong but in the absence of Kremlin Kirklees actually explaining anything this seems a good working theory and explains the councils blanket ban on sharing information. Time will tell comrades.

Ramsden Road – Public Space Protection Order?

Green laning….

Kirklees is rapidly becoming the jewel in the green laners crown. The 4×4 friendly council have for many years given carte blanche for Ramsden Road and connecting lanes to be sacrificed to this anti social pass time at the expense of all other users and the environment.

The councils unique skill set of incompetence and indifference have served them well on Ramsden Road where every half cocked intervention over 25 years has succeeded in making things worse … unless you’re in a 4×4!

In the latest twist it appears that Kirklees officers have been “consulting” some “key stakeholders” regarding making a Public Space Protection Order on Ramsden Road. Those “key Stakeholders” don’t appear to be from groups most negatively affected by 4×4 use on Ramsden Road – walkers,cyclists,equestrians or residents. Who could the mystery “key Stakeholders” be? Kirklees should come clean and be clear on where the PSPO idea has come from and who the “Key Stakeholders” are.

Public Space Protection Orders are fairly new and designed to tackle anti social behaviour. See  here . It would seem an odd choice to use such a tool on Ramsden Road where the damage comes from legitimate legal use of the byway by 4×4 motor vehicles. The dreadful damage to adjacent land is an added bonus. Stop 4×4 access with a Traffic Regulation Order and it all goes away.  Perhaps they are going to ban anti social ramblers? At the moment no one knows as Kirklees officers have refused point blank to provide any information. This is never a good sign.

 

Colne Valley. The Elephants Graveyard Of Rights Of Way.

Snap shot of problem paths in the Colne Valley.

There are over 250 individual public rights of way in the Colne Valley and this ought to be a superb area for the 17k plus local population and visitors alike to go walking. It has a bit of everything from canals, rivers, woods, dark satanic mills and wild windswept moors.

The past ten years have seen previous work and investment to open up, sign and repair paths in the area swept away on a tide of austerity and local authority indifference. Longstanding historical problems have been left to ferment for another decade. A recent volunteer survey has recorded over 350 individual problems on the valley’s 250 rights of way. A large number of paths are completely blocked and unusable.

Kirklees front line staff do a good job with the limited resources at their disposal but an area with this level of prow disfunction needs an injection of cash, staff and expertise way above that presently available. The 800 odd miles of rights of way in Kirklees get a £50K annual revenue budget.

In contrast Kirklees Council bought the derelict George Hotel in Huddersfield in 2020 for £1.8 million (the previous owner paid £900k for it in 2013). It is spending some £250 million at various sites in Huddersfield Town centre and a reported £100 million in Dewsbury. So the council isn’t short of a bob or two when it wants to spend ( so long as it’s not public rights of way! Ed.)

Councillor Naheed Mather who is the cabinet member with responsibility for rights of way has been asked what further resources can be made available to help frontline staff tackle the Colne Valley. In response she suggested resources are stretched because of Covid 19 (but not so stretched that they can’t afford £1.8 million for a derelict hotel. Ed.) and directs members of the public to volunteer on Colne Valley paths for now (wot lockdown? Ed). This of course ignores the complex nature of path problems which often require a degree of legal or enforcement action and large scale ground works on site. It also abandons current frontline staff to an impossible task.

One can only wonder at the complete lack of aspiration and imagination from our local “leaders” with regard to maintaining and improving countryside access.

Path Signs In The Snow.

Holmfirth 68. Went missing in the first lockdown but now reunited with it’s path.
Holmfirth 112 gets a pasting from the north.
Holmfirth 68. A box top beauty from the 1950’s
Holmfirth 105. All aboard for Cartworth Moor.
Holmfirth 177. This way to the best path in the valley?
Holmfirth 178. This was regular “turn arounder”
Holmfirth 165. Winter wonderland sign at Cartworth.
Holmfirth 108. Free tractor.
Holmfirth 95. Wot’s not to like.
Colne Valley 92. An honorary entry from over the hill. Nice too.

BBC You & Yours Piece On Ramsden Road

Is off roading ever acceptable?  That’ll be a no!

The Beeb have been up on Ramsden Road with a long suffering local resident to do a piece on off roading. Many local voices have been drowned out by Kirklees & 4×4 groups propaganda so it is refreshing to hear Mr Wilson’s perspective as someone who lives near the byway. The piece starts at about 24 minutes here

Because of the Ramblers

CampaignerKate

The upside to lockdown last spring was that lots of people discovered their local paths—and as we return to lockdown they will do so again. But few will have realised that those local paths only exist because of the work of the Ramblers and our predecessors.

Without the Ramblers there would probably have been no definitive maps of public rights of way, which we won 71 years ago in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Before then, if you went for a walk and found your path blocked you had to prove it was a public highway before you could expect any action to clear it.

Path cleared through maize near Felbrigg in Norfolk

The definitive maps were just the start though. Then we had to claim the paths for the maps—not so easy in the 1950s when far fewer people had their own cars. Later…

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