Colne Valley 253 Sellars Clough. Public Inquiry Cancelled Due To Covid 19

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The Planning Inspectorate have unsurprisingly cancelled a public inquiry due to be held at Marsden in June. See here row_3232071_on_cancellation . For information here is a copy of the order row_3232071_order_&_map . Cancellation of inquiries and an even bigger backlog of orders at the Planning Inspectorate is likely to be one of the more noticeable effects of the Covid 19 pandemic on rights of way well into the future.

Kirklees are for once ahead of the curve and have been blaming Covid 19 for things not getting done from as far back as 2017! It seems the little strand of RNA can now time travel to assist the Council in excusing past piss poor performance. More on that story later.

Ramsden Road Repairs Off To Good Start.

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1000m or so of reopened drainage.

The works to Ramsden Road have got off to a good start. Really pleased to see a 1000m or so of reinstated drain on the moorland side of the road. Also about 8 reinstated culverts to connect this into adjacent land drains so water can get away. This will make such a difference. Excess soil from the ditching is being very carefully placed in the old parish quarry which will also improve this area.

Great stuff 🙂

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One of the reinstated culverts.

Spenborough Footpath 110 – Kirklees Obstruct their Own Footpath

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Groundworks on Spen 110 plus obstructing fence. Just a “mix up”.

Regular readers may recall my previous blog highlighting the making & advertising of a diversion order on  Spen 110  back in March. In that article a bucket full of scorn was poured over Kirklees for making such an order during the Covid 19 travel restrictions on public movement. In effect the council were asking the public for comment on a proposal when it was illegal to go and visit the site in question. Requests to re advertise the order when restrictions were lifted fell on deaf ears.

PathWatch has subsequently discovered that Kirklees had a temporary closure order on Spen 110 (the section subject to the diversion application) to facilitate safe demolition of the leisure centre buildings. This temporary closure order ran out on 31st January 2020. At that point Spen 110 should have been reopened to public use. It’s worth noting that the granting of any planning permission  affecting a public right of way does not in itself permit the movement of, damage to, or construction of anything on the path until a lengthy legal diversion process has been completed successfully. One outcome of that process is that the path may not be diverted and the development, as proposed, cannot not go ahead.  See Holmfirth Footpath 60 which fell at an early hurdle in the Grand National diversion race. There are problems with the council’s diversion proposals for Spen 110 which need properly addressing through this process.

I am sure by now you have guessed where all this is leading. Spen Footpath 110 has of course been completely obstructed by site fencing at the council owned development. The public footpath sign off Bradford Road points straight at an unscalable fence whilst at the other end a view of the path apparently being dug up can be had through the more open fencing. The council have confirmed that the path was not reopened on expiry of the temporary closure on 31st January  but remained illegally closed for some three and a half months until 14th May.

PathWatch asked Kirklees on 12th May to confirm that Spen 110 had reopened as legally required on 31st January . On the 19th  May  Kirklees sent a copy of an “emergency” closure notice they had placed on the path on 14th May . This closes the path legally until 3rd June  at which point a further 6 month closure will come into force lasting into December . A cynic might suggest that it is no coincidence this emergency closure order appeared 2 days after my enquiry. The council say it is a “mix up”.

Clearly Kirklees have illegally obstructed their own footpath for three and a half months. Reputable authorities would normally only issue an emergency closure for…well… an emergency. Something like damage,danger,flooding etc. Cock ups aren’t really the intended purpose for this legislation. One of the reasons cited in the closure order is “demolition” despite all buildings on site having already been knocked down!Kirklees have now said that Spen 110 may remain closed with the use of temporary orders until 2022.

In closing, digging up and placing permanent fencing on Spen 110, whilst at the same time constructing and providing part of the proposed new route, Kirklees are arguably  giving the impression that the diversion process is a forgone conclusion. The use of emergency and temporary closures to keep a path shut for the duration of a diversion process is very poor practice from a local authority. This sort of situation does tend to undermine the legal process and really should be avoided.

Kirklees are funding most of the high profile £15 million Spenborough pool development at this site. They are the planning applicant, landowner and applicant for the diversion order. They are also the Highway Authority for Spen 110 with a duty to ensure such paths are not obstructed or built on. It is therefore essential that they not just do things properly but are seen to do so. If a public body responsible for both planning and rights of way cannot manage the related legal processes correctly and maintain public confidence they could very well set an unhelpful precedent for private companies to follow.

The council could pull back the site boundary a few metres so that Spen 110 remains open and outside the site. This would protect the path from further “mix ups” and leave it intact until the diversion process is properly concluded.

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Spen 110 at Bradford Road.

 

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Lets Get Ramsden Road Done! Says Boris…Sort Of.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has directly intervened in the long running  Ramsden Road fiasco. Previously on PathWatch we reported that the planned Ramsden Road works had been delayed as a consequence of Covid 19  and furloughing of the councils chosen contractors. However the Prime Ministers widely derided speech of 10th May urging the great British Worker to get off his or her backside and back to work seems to have done the trick. Contractors are now on site working on Ramsden Road 🙂

Thank you Boris 🙂

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Holmfirth Footpath 121 Gets New Sign

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New prow Sign Holmfirth 121 (Kirklees photo)

News just in. Kirklees have put up a public footpath sign on Holmfirth Footpath 121 to avoid confusion with a Private Road sign. It would be nice to feature more “good news” stories on PathWatch. Exciting things like obstructions being removed, paths through crops being reinstated and big things being fixed. We like a warm glow as much as anyone.

Thank you Kirklees 🙂

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Holmfirth 121 New Sign
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How it was.

Increase In Mountain Bikes On Crow Access Land During Covid 19 ?

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All but exchanged bodily fluids with this biker

Certain local footpaths are well used by mountain bikers and by and large I don’t particularly have a problem with it. I’m usually happy to step aside and let them keep momentum going. There aren’t enough off road routes for cyclists or equestrians.

There has been a noticeable increase of late in mountain bike use of local Crow access land ie not on a public footpath but on private property. Much of this land is sensitive high peat moorland and vulnerable to damage. Indeed the cyclist shown in the photograph is on Crow access land at Holme Moss which is currently being restored by Moors For The Future. Grazing has been suspended at this site and there’s a huge investment in repairing the ecological damage to improve  biodiversity and mitigate climate change. We watched this guy enjoy riding down a recently restored peat bank where upon he came within spitting distance of us. Seemingly oblivious to the bigger picture.

Ramsden Clough (Crow access land)  is also beginning to suffer from damage by mountain bike use. The area into the clough from the peat pits and from Ramsden Road is covered in bike tyre tracks. Most times I am up there there are mountain bikers around enjoying the “tech” as they say.

 All this use is questionable at the best of times but for it to continue and seemingly increase during the current Covid 19 restrictions ? 🙂

Readily available information on who can use Crow access land in the Peak Park is here

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Ramsden Road Works Delayed.

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The Councils planned repairs to the top section of Ramsden Road which were due to be undertaken in April/May 2020 are now delayed due to furloughing of the chosen contractors.

This marks yet another twist in the authorities complete inability to repair and maintain this popular public highway. The Council has known about the state of Ramsden Road for over 20 years and successfully managed to ignore it throughout that time.

PathWatch first became involved in trying to get something done in 2017. I met the Greenspace Manager from Kirklees on site in December 2017. He was very clear that 4×4 vehicles were causing the extensive damage and that they “must” be taken off the lane prior to the council undertaking repairs. To that end the Greenspace Manager commissioned an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order which would ban motor vehicles from the route for 18 months. During that time period the council would survey,repair and monitor the site prior to taking off the restrictions, if appropriate.

The legal order cost £6k. The works on site to physically close the route in November 2018 cost £2.5K. Unfortunately the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was full of errors and unenforceable. Any reputable public authority would have corrected the errors and continued but Kirklees abandoned the process. They say the decision to abandon the ETRO process was a delegated officer decision. Yet they have no record of this decision.It appears to have been made outside the Councils constitution and the legal requirements councils are obliged to operate within.  This has led us all around the houses to where we are now ie continued and expensive vehicular damage to Ramsden Road, a postponed scheme to repair the top section and no plan at all to repair the hazardous downhill section.

Had the Council done its job properly Ramsden Road would have been closed to motor traffic for 18 months from December 2018. In that time the council would have repaired the entire route which would now be due to reopen to all traffic in just a few weeks time.

However we are stuck in the Kirklees Komedy Klub with few laughs and no end in sight to the tedious chuckle broteresque escapades.