The Cost of doing nothing 4

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The beautiful Kirklees countryside which is accessed mostly via public rights of way

Something seems to be rustling in the long grass where Kirklees Council lost the issue of Huddersfield Byway 231.

A rather cryptic email from Kirklees arrived this week –

I am contacting you as a person who has expressed an interest in route Hud/231.

I expect a  report on proposed status will be going to committee in late November. The report will be a public document at the point it is published prior to the meeting.

The council will not be releasing any information on this prior to that point as is the normal practice.

Well I’ve expressed an interest in Huddersfield Byway 231 and in particular the shoddy way Kirklees has dealt with its obstruction,  wasted scarce public resources, acted outside its own policies and legal obligations, ignored the public, told planners one thing and the public another etc etc. But no I’ve never heard of route Hud/231.

I can’t think why the email refers to route Hud/231 when what it is referring to is of course Huddersfield Byway 231. It seems that this byway is the Voldermort of Kirklees rights of way.

The late November committee referred to is the Planning Sub Committee (Huddersfield) to be held on 23rd November 2015.

The most interesting part of the email is the final statement that –

The council will not be releasing any information on this prior to that point as is the normal practice 

Could this information include the work Leeds City Council have done for Kirklees on a consultancy basis at a cost of £5,000? I suspect it may. I’d like to know  what this £5,000 of taxpayers money has uncovered,if anything and whether it has been an appropriate use of public money. £5,000 on public footpaths would replace a footbridge or a good few kissing gates, stiles ,signs etc. but instead the public are getting nothing here.

Hiring Leeds City Council to undertake this work was an unprecedented step for Kirklees. Taking this application out of the Council’s own Priority List and treating it differently was also unprecedented. This application scored low on the Council’s priority matrix  coming 90 on a list of 125 cases. It’s interesting to speculate if the other 124 applicants on the list will also have the opportunity to have their applications looked at by a consultant ? If not, why not ? Do the other 124 applicants even know that the Council has disregarded the procedure that keeps their applications waiting indefinitely? In setting this precedent have Kirklees created a financial liability which previously did not exist? 124 applications at £5,000 a go is £620,000.

The number 1 application on the Council’s list was received in 1993! I think the applicants (if still alive!) would be rightly cheesed off that the Byway 231 application scoring 8 points less and being received by the Council in 2014 is off to committee in November ahead of theirs. I hope the Council has contacted the 89 applicants ahead of the Huddersfield Byway 231 application to fully explain what is happening.

The Council has been less than transparent with the public over Huddersfield Byway 231 and appears to be treating the 124 applicants on its priority list less favourably than this one application.

At the Council’s  Asset Board meeting of 7th December 2015 it was agreed that Kirklees “categorically stick to process” as regards Huddersfield Byway 231. That process being “The DMMO policy – which sets out a priority matrix in which the applications will be addressed.” This was confirmed to me as a result of a FOI request 15534. It demonstrates again that Kirklees Council is being less than transparent in its dealing with the public.  Here is the action point and attendees at that meeting.

Action Point of Asset Board 7-12-2015

And here is an extract from an email clarifying precisely what “categorically stick to process” refers to. (The Section 130a notices mentioned were withdrawn.)

Please would you be able to clarify which process is being referred to in the action point “categorically stick to process” 

“Stick to process” means that we are guided by two principles:

  • The legal process that surrounds 130a notices that gives strict timescales;
  • The DMMO policy – which sets out a priority matrix in which the applications will be addressed.

Despite asking I’ve had no explanation as to the obvious contradiction between the agreed point of action and what has actually happened which is of course the opposite!

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If you’ve got this far – enjoy the view.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Cost of doing nothing 4”

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