The Power Of A Traffic Regulation Order

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Not TRO’d Byway 20.93/2
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TRO’d  Byway 20.93/1

The humble traffic regulation order in action on a byway in the Dales. The photos above were taken on The High Way in the Parish of High Abbotside where the way splits into two. Byway 20.93/2 heads south back into the valley whilst Byway 20.93/1 stays high and heads south east. It doesn’t take a genius to work out which one has a Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting motor vehicles and which one doesn’t.

It’s also a unique example of two byways next to each other. One clearly showing the positive effect of a TRO and the other exhibiting the obvious negative effects of damage caused to the route by vehicles.

Of course here in Kirklees it is completely different. Motor vehicles do not damage byways (less gravity here? Ed) and the Council are happy to pump in public cash to repair byways not damaged by vehicles and there’s no need for a TRO because well vehicles don’t…

There’s long experience in the Dales of the National Park putting TRO’s on these byways BEFORE repairing them and keeping the TRO in place to protect the surface from future vehicle damage. The added bonus to this approach is safe,unspoilt off road routes for non motorised users.

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Ramsden Road. A Kirklees byway not damaged by vehicles.

Latest Defra Advice On Rights Of Way & Covid 19

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Don’t take advice from the pitch fork brigade. This is the latest government position and advice to its stakeholders.There are no path closures in England.

Defra message to stakeholders on Covid-19 020420

Public Rights of Way and Covid-19

The government’s priority is to save lives and the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay at home.

However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so the government has said people can leave their homes for exercise once a day.

NFU and CLA have told us that some landowners are still concerned about increased use of public rights of way on their property increasing the risk to livestock, such as instances of gates being left open and dogs not being controlled.

To help address this we will publish a supplementary video on social media in advance of this weekend, reminding people to follow the Countryside Code. This will be published on Twitter @DefraGovUK and Defra’s Facebook page. We encourage you to share this with your members and networks.

Finally, further concerns have been raised by stakeholders that the use of public rights of way that run through gardens, farmyards and schools is increasing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus to residents and farm workers.

The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.

Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:

  • Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
  • Temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools.

Note: this is a polite request only, and there is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained.

Key points to Note under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW)

  • Under Section 39 of CROW it is an offence to fail to comply with an order of the Magistrate’s Court to remove an obstruction. So a landowner must not obstruct any right of way.
  • It is an offence under section 14 of CROW to display a notice that contains “any false or misleading information likely to deter the public from exercising” a right of way.
  • Land owners may be liable for personal injury under section 13 (6C) of CROW if they are reckless or intend to create a risk – for example by offering a dangerous alternative.

This means that

  • If a land owner offers an alternative route, they must ensure that it is safe to use and that the existing right of way is maintained so that users with differing abilities have a choice.
  • A notice must not imply that there is any doubt about the use of the existing right of way.

These temporary measures must be lifted as soon as social distancing measures are relaxed.

Wording for Signs

Defra also produced suggested wording for signs requesting the public to use an alternative path as follows:

Public right of way Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This path passes through a private garden/working farmyard/working stables.

An alternative and safe permitted path is available to maintain social distancing and protect residents and local communities.

If you wish to use the alternative route please follow the way markers along this temporary route.

In line with Defra and Public Health England advice:

Maintain social distancing requirements –

Ensure you keep at least 2 metres away from other people

Hand wash/sanitise after touching any shared surfaces, e.g. stiles/gates.

Keep dogs on a lead around livestock and away from other people/dogs.

Leave gates as you find them.

For paths with no possible alternative:

Public right of way Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This path crosses through farmland & close to local people’s homes and their families.

In line with Defra and Public Health England Advice:

Maintain social distancing requirements –

Ensure you keep at least 2 metres away from other people.

Hand wash/sanitise after touching any shared surfaces e.g. stiles/gates.

Keep dogs on a lead near livestock and away from other people/dogs

Walking Locally During Lockdown

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The hysteria surrounding walking paths as a form of exercise during the current public lockdown has reached Holmfirth footpaths.  For clarity have a read of this link on the new law  bringing in the restrictions. You can walk public paths. There are no restrictions on driving a mile or two to do so. The police and all front line services have a difficult balancing act but it is   reported here  that they are now taking a more pragmatic approach to this issue and the drones have been grounded for now. West Yorkshire Police are reportedly not issuing warning letters for parked cars in walking areas locally. This LBQC   from St. John’s Chambers is also worth reading. Time to put the pitchforks away and be sensible.

Any signs such as the one above or obstructions should be reported to Kirklees in the usual manner here highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk

Spenborough Footpath 110 Diversion Order Goes To Public Consultation During …Er…Public Lockdown

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PathWatch usually favours cock up rather than conspiracy  as far as Kirklees Council is concerned however the case of  Spenborough  Footpath 110 is debatable. The council made a legal order to stop up and divert part of this path to permit development on 12th March 2020. That’s the day after the World Health Organisation declared a worldwide pandemic  regarding Covid 19. The council wrote to statutory consultees on 19th March 2020 asking for any comments to be made by 1st May 2020.

It could just be bad timing of course or someone in the legal department who doesn’t get out much, go on the internet or even read a newspaper but it seems an odd and inappropriate time to be making orders diverting public footpaths. During the consultation time period the Council must legally post and maintain  notices on site and advertise the order in the press. An interesting use of resources in the current chaos. Of course no member of the public can go to the site to assess the pros and cons of the diversion order under the current lockdown restrictions.

The site in question belongs to Kirklees. In June 2019 Kirklees applied to itself and obtained planning permission to demolish the existing building and build a new leisure centre. This included diversion of Spen Footpath 110. Subsequently Kirklees applied to itself to stop up and divert the part of Spen Footpath 110 affected and this is the order currently being advertised.

Like I say it could be bad timing and just a fortunate coincidence that this is a great time to slip something like this through.

Link to order consultation Public Path Diversion Near Spen Valley Leisure Centre (1)

 

Wales Brings In Access Restrictions

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The Welsh Government is bringing in The Health Protection (Coronavirus Leisure footpaths etc ) (Wales) Regul… to allow closure of public paths by local authorities in response to the current Covid 19 outbreak. At present there are no such restrictions in  England.

Last weekend in England was something of a Covid 19 Bank Holiday. People flocked to our national parks and open spaces to enjoy the sun and new found freedom of unemployment. It’s hard to blame them. The UK Government seemed fairly relaxed about Covid 19 visiting the country on it’s gap year travels. However the locals and  authorities were properly spooked by the frantic growth in rambling  along  with seaside scenes of the usual suspects quing for chips and ice cream . Arguably this mini walking craze partly prompted Boris’s Monday night lockdown, something which the deadly virus had noticeably failed to achieve on it’s own.

 

Council That Can’t Afford To Maintain It’s Public Rights Of Way Network Buys Hotel Instead

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A public footpath Kirklees are responsible for in Holmfirth. There’s no cash to repair this as they’ve spent it on a hotel in Huddersfield.

Spendthrift Kirklees Council have been out shopping and bought themselves a hotel!

Is this the same Kirklees Council who for a decade have been cutting essential public services (rights of way maintenance amongst them) with the justification that they have …er..no money? 60 pence less per pound is the mantra we’ve all learnt by rote.

It seems they’ve looked down the back of the corporate sofa and found all those 60p’s !

The story is featured in what passes for the local newspaper here but of course the Council have not revealed the cost to the public of this rather lavish purchase. Obviously I think we should be told.

In other news Councillor Shabir Pandor our leader from Batley has issued a statement on the current coronavirus crisis. I’m sure blog readers will be reassured by Councillor Pandor’s assertion that “our strength is in our togetherness” and his timely advice on hand washing.

 

Community spirited Fly Tippers Form “Friends Of Harden Hill Road” Group To Repair Popular Bridleway.

Harden Hill

In a moving example of the local community pulling together in troubled times a group of public spirited fly tippers have recently collaborated to restore a much loved local bridleway. PathWatch has spoken to Albert Steptoe of the new group, known as Tip Kirklees, about their efforts.

Albert told the blog “It’s great to be part of Tip Kirklees and to put something back. All to often fly tippers are seen as anti social petty criminals who don’t care about the environment. Through Tip Kirklees we hope to break down the stereotypes  of crooks in white vans dumping toxic crap all over the byways and bridleways of Kirklees”

PathWatch asked Albert about the new surfacing technique Tip Kirklees are using on Harden Hill Road, a much loved bridleway in Meltham. “Although the tip is only a mile away we’ve sent our fleet of feral vans and flat back trucks up the bridleway on a series of “tip days”to repair the 20 years of erosion that Kirklees have ignored. Tip Kirklees are donating tons of granite kitchen worktops in a range of colours to repair the bridleway surface” continued Albert with a completely straight face.

When we asked Albert where all this waste had come from, how much Tip Kirklees were saving in tip fees and whether slippy, shiny, hard and sharp edged granite work tops were really the best surface for a bridleway he got quite agitated.  “I know where you live” he said. Unsure if this was a threat or an offer to tarmac the PathWatch driveway we left it at that.

Harden Hill-2

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