Somewhere Over The Rainbow….

Somewhere over the rainbow….Friends Group puts in a bid for pot of gold to fix Ramsden Road.

The latest installment of  one of the many Prow Sagas of Kirklees continued with a meeting at Holmfirth Civic Hall on 7th March to discuss forming a Friends of Ramsden Road Group. Chaired once again by the same Kirklees manager who but a year ago promised to fend off all 4×4’s with a TRO prior to fixing the road (Read the email in Ramsden Road) . Promises which have proved to be little more than empty words. No surprises there then!

The meeting was attended by 12 members of the public. 10 from groups representing motor vehicles users and 2 from walkers groups. There was only one model for a “Friends of Ramsden Road Group” on offer and that was the councils. The deal is that the Friends Group would raise the funds (several hundred thousand pounds), come up with a scheme of work, identify and engage contractors, be responsible for health & safety, have it’s own bank account,contribute physically to the works on site and in effect do the councils job for it.

None of the 12 members of the public present had any experience of raising that level of funding nor of procuring civil engineering works etc etc. It would seem the councils only aim here is to pass the responsibility for the state of Ramsden Road onto someone else as quickly as possible and without thinking to much about it. A case of asking for volunteers to step forward whilst taking two big steps back itself. Oh dear,how sad,what a pity, never mind as Windsor Davies might have said.

In a recent letter to an interested party the council’s Greenspace Manager justified the current lack of council action thus “The route has been in a state of disrepair for some period of time and whilst it is recognised there is a need for action,it is more important to ensure that any interventions undertaken are useful and sustainable,not reactive or short term” I don’t think anyone could accuse Kirklees of being “reactive or short term” given the problems were first brought to their attention in 2006!

Ramsden Road

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There’s nothing new under the sun and certainly not in the world of Kirklees public rights of way. Many problems have been around for decades or longer in the full knowledge of Kirklees Council, the local highway authority.

One could be forgiven for thinking the Councils job as highway authority is not to keep the network in good repair but but to evade doing so by any means possible and at whatever cost to the public purse. Ramsden Road is a beautiful example of this phenomenon.

At a meeting in Holmfirth Civic Hall on 22nd January 2019 chaired by the council manager for rights of way and with a couple of local councillors present the audience was expertly guided into forming a “Friends of Ramsden Road” group. The cynicism involved is staggering but it was pulled it off superbly.

The same council manager confirmed in February 2018 that “May I also take this opportunity to advise you that I have instructed that we proceed with putting on the experimental TRO on Ramsden Road – and this is presently with colleagues to put into place. Once the route is secured from motorised vehicles then it will be further assessed to see what works are required, to both satisfy the issues raised by yourselves, and to ensure the route is best utilised.”

This undertaking was acted upon and an Environmental Traffic Regulation Order at a cost of some £6,000 placed on Ramsden Road with a further  £2,500 spent in practical works on site to secure the road in November 2018. No explanation was given as to the complete change of direction and indeed the ETRO was technically still in force when the meeting took place. The TRO has been now been abandoned.

The Friends of Ramsden Road group seems to take things back to square 1 (aka the long grass) and the onus for fundraising and carrying out some work would appear to rest,in part, with this ad hoc group of enthusiasts.

Ramsden Road needs a specialist contractor with proven experience in this area. It may well be a good idea to harness public enthusiasm to look after the road once professional reinstatement is achieved but be in no doubt any material used to repair Ramsden Road will at some point end up down at the bottom of the hill. It has a chance of staying put longer if works are done to the highest standard possible and if those works are subsequently protected from future damage by 4×4 motor vehicles.

The Peak District National Park Authority carried out a sustainability assessment  of Ramsden Road in 2013 and the route scored almost maximum points for its current poor condition and continuing vulnerability. This was not mentioned at the meeting yet it would seem to be a starting point for any professional course of action.

Anyone at the Civic Hall meeting could have been forgiven for thinking the problems on Ramsden Road had just popped up recently and taken the council by surprise. This is not the case and in fact history is repeating itself. Around 15 years ago council officers put together a detailed report on Ramsden Road with a view to undertaking repairs and long term management. One of the proposals was a TRO to prohibit motor vehicles.That report and course of action is gathering dust somewhere in Civic 3.

The Huddersfield Examiner of 23 October 2006 reported Councillors Blocking Bid To Protect Path and  the same 2 councillors from 2006 were at the 2019 meeting arguing the same  point. Imagine if a TRO had been placed on Ramsden Road in 2006 and the route repaired at 2006 prices and at a time when council coffers were much more healthy. Instead we have a significantly more degraded route which is seriously more expensive to repair (£150 to £200K). The test of time seems to have proved the councillors quite wrong and saddled the council tax payer with a greater financial liability.

Kirklees Council are quoted in another Examiner article in 2007 saying they “planned to undertake improvement works on this route and then monitor the situation to see where there were problems with conflict of use”. They indicated they “would look at steps to deal with problems; options available included traffic-calming, signage or a Traffic Regulation Order. The option pursued would depend on the severity of the problem.” Nothing was ever done.

Every time Ramsden Road comes out of the long grass it is quickly kicked back in by those responsible for maintaining it.






The gate on Ramsden Road. Part of the £2.5k works undertaken as part of a botched Traffic Regulation Order. 

We are currently in the pre budget softening up time here in the People’s Republic of Kirklees. Senior councillors are in full on whine mode about how tough the financial situation is for Kirklees and how they only have 60p out of every pound they had compared to 10 years ago. Watch out for those Council Tax bills folks! They only go in one direction.

Despite admitting in April 2018 that the Environmental Traffic Regulation Order for Ramsden Road was costing £6k Kirklees are now saying they don’…”hold a figure” for it. That seems like a great way to run the finances of a local authority. Perhaps the Council only have 60p of every pound they used to have because they don’t actually know where the other 40p is?

In the latest tally up on Ramsden Road a further £2.5k can be added for the cost of works on site to enforce a TRO that in effect never came into force because it was a string vest of school boy errors.

So the Ramsdenroadometer now stands at around £8.5k of taxpayers money spent to achieve absolutely zero effect on the washed out byway. To put that figure into perspective it is getting on for a fifth of the authorities £50k annual maintenance budget for public rights of way.


Ramsden Roadometer


Path Watch is pleased to announce a major investment in rights of way smart technology in Kirklees with the launch of the Ramsden Roadometer (Patent Pending). Our technicians have managed to place a smart meter on the cock up generators in Civic 3 linked directly to our ground breaking Ramsden Roadometer.

The technology is loosely based on Hughie Green’s famous “Clapometer” and is almost as accurate. The Ramsden Roadometer records pounds spent on nothing by the council rather than audience satisfaction.

At present the Ramsden Roadometer is edging up to £6,000 of public money spent on an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order which the council decided not to enforce after a few days. The figure will rise in the coming weeks when costs of the works on site (now abandoned) are run through the Ramsden Roadometer. 

Path Watch is hoping to roll out the Ramsden Roadometer to other council cock ups throughout the year and announce a Christmas Number 1 next December!

Of course like the council the Ramsden Roadometer can’t fix your paths or move obstructions but it is guaranteed cock up free and will not cost you a penny!



Ramsden Road

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More of a rock climb than a walk

Where to begin on this one? Let’s start with what it is. A byway open to all traffic (Holmfirth 180). This means walkers,riders,cyclists and motor vehicles have a right to pass along here. Might be worth mentioning who is responsible for the maintenance of Ramsden Road too. Well as it is recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement it is publicly maintainable by the local Highway Authority which is Kirklees Council. I can hear your groans and cries of despair dear reader but I’m just telling it like it is.

Clearly the surface of the byway is very much out of repair and hasn’t seen any maintenance of any kind for a long time,if ever. How has it got into this state? Well it would be very easy to blame 4×4 users who the byway is very popular with but I don’t think that would be fair. As a walker I’ve walked on many badly eroded footpaths where the damage has been caused by boots alone. So I’m not going to chuck the first stone of blame in the direction.

Many years ago before Ramsden Road was in this dire state but had the beginnings of these problems  there was a popular suggestion  to put a traffic regulation order on the byway which would have either stopped motor vehicle use or limited it at certain times of year. Sadly the idea was shot down in flames by local councillors who would hear none of it. The rest as they say is history and we are now left with this assault course of a byway.

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No not the famous Holmfirth Lido

It is still up to Kirklees to manage the traffic on Ramsden Road and keep the byway safe and in a condition suitable for it’s expected traffic which on the face of it doesn’t seem too challenging. However it is obvious from the neglected drains,culverts and extensive damage that the byway has been left to deteriorate and the public can take their chances when walking there.

What can be done? Path Watch has asked Kirklees to carry out some urgent emergency repairs to the worst affected sections of standing water and erosion. In the short term all that means is importing some local stone to put the surface back into a safe condition. They can then have a think about what to do in the longer term.

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Neglected cross drain

The byway has a good drainage system of ditches,culverts and cut offs which require reinstatement and of course the surface needs extensive repairs. This could be carried out over a period of time and need not break the bank.  What ever excuses come from Kirklees there is no getting away from 1. They are responsible and 2. lack of resources is no defense. Putting corporate fingers in their ears and singing LA LA LA loudly just won’t cut it.

Reports about  condition of Ramsden Road ,Holmfirth Byway 180 should be made to

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