Regular readers will recall PathWatch inquiries via the Freedom of Information Act here into how a Council decision to put an Environmental Traffic Regulation order banning 4×4’s from Ramsden Road was overturned in December 2018. The result of this decision is that any works carried out to repair Ramsden Road will be instantly vulnerable to damage by motor vehicles. The Council identified 4×4 damage as a problem as far back as 2004 and of course spent £10k and all of 2018 securing an ETRO in order to protect proposed works from 4×4 damage. It’s abrupt change of mind never made any sense.
When asked how the decision was made to abandon the ETRO Kirklees stated that “The decision was based on a visual assessment of the road and discussion with colleagues and the Peak Park on the most equitable way forward.” No dates, names, new evidence on the effect of 4×4’s or outline of the process were provided. Presumably whoever wrote that is an up and coming comedian or an expert in evasion?
After an unseemly delay the Council’s Head Of Legal Services has completed a review and in respect of the answer above says –
However, my conclusion is that the council’s response to item 3 in your request – “please also provide information which shows who at Kirklees Council took the decision not to proceed with the ETRO on Ramsden Road and the reason behind this decision:-“ does not fully comply with the requirements of the Act and Regulations. I have therefore decided that this matter should be referred back to the relevant service and that you should be provided with further information as to who took the decision not to proceed with the ETRO and, if the council holds further information on this point, additional information has to be reasoning behind the decision.
I therefore partially uphold your request for a review. I have referred this matter back to the council’s Information Governance Team with a request that they reconsider the matter and that supplementary information (if any) is provided to you as soon as reasonably practicable.
Of course there are a number of caveats as to why the Council may not have to provide this information but we will wait and see. More on this in due course.
As ever with our hapless Council there is a rich irony here. The Head of Legal Services undertook the review and of course it was the errors made by legal services in the drafting of the ETRO which set off this unfortunate chain of events.
Very hard it would seem. The Highways Act 1980 is pretty clear on how farmers should manage ploughing and cropping. In a nutshell any ploughed/cropped path should be properly reinstated to its minimum width within 14 days from the paths first disturbance or 24 hours for any subsequent disturbance . Local Highway Authorities such as Kirklees have a duty to enforce this on behalf of the public and have some robust rechargeable powers to assist them. So how hard can it be? Even the Farmers Guardian get it.
Derbyshire County Council are open,transparent and follow their authorities decision making process. Kirklees take more of a nudge,nudge,wink,wink approach and hold no record or documentation relating to their decision to overturn a delegated officer decision and drop their Ramsden Road TRO last December, having spent some £10k of public money in the process.
This is an interesting approach to doing things as it would appear to be well outside the Council’s constitution in terms of its decision making processes and of course shows the usual disregard for public money, residents concerns and the long suffering tax payer who funds it all.
Derbyshire have now made a TRO for Jacob’s Ladder at Stoney Middleton and because they follow due process the order and background information can be viewed at tro-jacobs-ladder . Kirklees have not followed the decision making process laid down in the Council’s constitution and it may be worth reading your tea leaves or seeing Mystic Meg as alternative sources of information.
Although Kirklees is part of the United Kingdom, and even better still Yorkshire, it seems to exist in a vacuum as far as applying the law and widely agreed standards and practices on public rights of way. In particular the Council has great difficulty with the 40 year old BS:5709 .
The image above shows the latest modifications to a gate on Holmfirth Footpath 146 which was authorised in November 2017. In the time since and for various reasons including a padlock and chain, barbed wire, wooden splinters and excavated ground (not an exhaustive list! Ed) the gate has never met the simple requirements of BS:5709 .
Whilst the latest modification adding a “Bold” washing powder container (other brands are available. Ed) to cover wood splinters on the closing post is to be commended for its innovative recycling of single use plastic, that’s not really the point of BS:5709
It’s impossible for front line staff at Kirklees to effectively carry out their roles on public rights of way because of the toxic and anti public access culture that exists amongst senior managers and some councillors. The mildest of challenges from a landowner or their representative results in Kirklees managers and directors falling over themselves to apologise for staff doing their jobs properly,offering to review procedures (which are perfectly fine) and taking long walks to pick up dummies spat out by councillors. The result is no one rocks the boat to much and many public paths remain blocked, unusable,invisible and maintained to the lowest possible standard.
So after 20 months of Chuckle Brother Esque Carry On Up The Footpath nonsense it might be reasonable to expect removal of the gate on Footpath 146? After all the conditions authorising it’s installation (which the landowner signed up for) have not been met. So it should not be there hindering free passage. How hard can it be?
Impossible it would seem. In the upside down world of Kirklees Council this gate was mentioned in a report to the July 18th Planning Sub Committee. “Further liaison” is to take place! 🙂 🙂 🙂 What can there be to talk about? Perhaps a Daz plastic container should be used?
It is only a matter of weeks since the works highlighted in Well Done Kirklees 2 were completed and PathWatch is sad to report on the complete failure of the entire stretch of repaired path. Last weekend’s rain has washed the whole lot away from top to bottom.
The technique of stoning up public paths is a cheap and cheerful way of doing things and can look good and last on the flat. However PathWatch has blogged before about the vulnerability of this technique on the Pennine slopes of Kirklees. It isn’t easy to find a cost effective, sustainable and aesthetically acceptable method of repair but it needs to be done. They do exist along with experienced specialist contractors.
This is the second time Holmfirth Footpath 133 has been repaired using this method and the second time it has failed in this way. It’s not the best use of scare resources.
It certainly doesn’t look much but the brand new Public Footpath sign on Holmfirth Footpath 146 has taken some 51 years to erect! Local highway authorities have had the duty to place public paths signs where a path leaves the metalled highway since 1968. There has been a big improvement in Kirklees over the years but many paths with a history of obstruction have stubbornly remained signless into a respectable cricket innings of years. Holmfirth 146 has been clean bowled as it were and now sports a new sign where it leaves Sheffield Road near Hepworth.
PathWatch has blogged previously about quality control issues with the council following reopening of blocked paths and sadly Holmfirth 146 is another example. The new sign is great but where an obstructing wall has been removed a decent waymark post is necessary and has not been provided. The path here is close to a residential property and waymarking would help everyone. Add to that the overgrown nature of the ground and it’s hard to see just where to walk. Job half done.