In a generous autumn give away Kockuplees Council are throwing the troublesome but widely recognised and essential British Standard 5709 out the window and will allow any old thing to be placed on local public rights of way.
“So what’s new” said Benny Rothmans, stalwart member of Peak & Southern Footpaths Society “You’ve got to be a contestant on Who Dares Wins to get over most of the stiles & gates around here and up to date with your tetanus.”
We put this point to Les Battersby, the Councils Strategic Director of Not Giving A Toss. Les told us more about the controversial offer “Mr Rothmans certainly has a point and it is true to say that we have turned something of a blind eye to the awful mess of stiles & gates on our public footpaths since the relevant date of the year dot.However we’ve decided to be more honest and stop pretending we’re remotely interested in Rambers or anyone else who might like to enjoy a walk in the fresh air. The thing is we really don’t care. Any farmer who we have inadvertently forced to use BS5709 can contact us and will receive a very generous compensation package. This includes council staff removing the quality BS5709 gate and putting in any old crap, preferably with some barbed wire and a good wobble. We are able to offer ramblers over the age of 96 a reduced price tetanus injection with our medical partner BURPA for a small BURPA subscription of £300 a month (terms & conditions apply). I think Mr Rothmans may be eligible at 102.”
Back in the “real world” of Kirklees rights of way the council is currently running a dual system for use of BS5709 on our public paths. In some cases where the council has required removal of an obstruction the landowner is required to put in place a gate to the recognised British Standard 5709 . The process involves the usual form filling and checks by Kirklees staff. The standard is compliant with the councils Disability Discrimination Act obligations and allows the council to put conditions on such as clear signage and removal of the gate if no longer needed. In other cases landowners can put in anything they want and Kirklees isn’t bothered. The Council are unable to provide a rational explanation for this particular double standard.
Whilst it is a very poor deal for path users to be subject to sub standard and unauthorised structures which the council has no control over, it also seems unfair to landowners and farmers. There seems to be something of a BS5709 lottery here in the Holme Valley with landowners in identical situations being treated very differently.