Along with all the other dodgy signs on local paths some rather swish looking Kirklees signs have appeared locally just in time for Easter. The signs are headlined “Covid 19 Advice For Your Safety” but bullet points 3 and 4 simply refer to the countryside code which has been around for many years and is unconnected to the current pandemic. Point 1 is a handy reminder of social distancing but it is point 3 advising the public to wash/sanitise hands after touching stiles & gates which is interesting.
For the past 3 years this blog has been highlighting the excessive number of poor stiles/gates on the path network which have no legal authority to be there. These structures,mostly stiles, are not recorded on the Definitive Map & Statement and Kirklees,as highway authority, should be removing them when they are made aware. They know from a 2007 network survey that there are in excess of 4,000 such structures on their paths.
The implication in advising the public to wash/sanitise hands after touching stiles & gates is that there is a risk of picking up Covid 19 from these structures. There’s a clamour amongst the “rural community” to have all paths closed so that they can be protected from virus ridden ramblers covering stiles & gates with the disease.
Why then isn’t the Council contacting landowners who they know have unauthorised structures on public paths and requesting prompt removal of these structures to mitigate the risk to public health?
Ironically PathWatch has noted a number of these Advice For Your Safety Signs attached to various unauthorised structures. See the photo below which shows such a sign attached to an unauthorised structure on Holmfirth Bridleway 68. This is an extremely well used gate which has no legal reason to be there. Why aren’t Kirklees removing such structures rather than posting signs on them? If landowners are so concerned about the risk to themselves why not simply remove the gate? No risk to public or landowner if that is done.
There are two further gates on this bridleway and neither has any legal authority to be on the path.
A little way past the gates in these photos a public footpath (also Holmfirth 68) branches off the bridleway up to Acres Lane. There are two unauthorised stiles on this section of path. One is difficult to climb and requires the use of both hands. Again a completely unnecessary risk for both the public and landowner.
Ironically the only path furniture that the public do not have to touch, the Public Footpath sign on Acres lane, has been pulled out and dropped behind a wall in the field! It was there a couple of weeks ago pre lockdown. There’s a long history of this sign “disappearing” but this one had stayed put for 2 years.
One thing to remember about all these unauthorised structures and the negative effect they have on the network is that senior people at Kirklees know all about it but really don’t care. Regular readers might recall that in Kirklees Launches New Standard For Structures On Paths ! “Not To Standard But Acceptable” 🙂 we told the very dodgy tale of Kirklees Strategic Director Karl Battersby “authorising” non standard gates on a Holmfirth path, 3 in fact. None of these 3 gates are properly authorised or to any recognised standard. They have turned an 80 metre section of path which could be walked down without having to touch anything into something of a hotspot now Covid 18 has arrived.
Of course the risk is relatively low (unless you fall for the hysteria around this subject) but with over 4,000 such structures on paths in Kirklees and the phenomenal popularity in walking at present should Kirklees be doing something other than sticking laminated signs to the problem?
A few more unauthorised Frankensteins. Over 4,000 in stock. Terms & conditions apply. Hands free option not available.