West Yorkshire Police have named a Kirklees resident, Arthur Suggit of Cleckheaton, as the first man to be charged with the new offence of “Excessive Rambling”. This serious offence was brought in recently under measures to fight the spread of Covid 19.
Sgt. Dixon of Dock Green from Heckmondwike station told the blog “There’s a worrying trend in West Yorkshire of people leaving their cars at home because of the lockdown restrictions and…er …walking instead. We’ve seen a huge spike in this antisocial and criminal rambling craze, particularly amongst older residents who should know better. Mr Suggit’s behaviour in walking two and a half miles and staying out one hour and ten minutes exemplifies the widespread disregard for the law. When my officers arrested Mr Suggit he was also found to have a round of cheese and pickle sandwiches and a flask of tea in his possession. He has asked for these further offences to be taken into consideration. Mr Suggit can expect a long custodial sentence and the key may well be thrown away.”
PathWatch spoke exclusively to Arthur via a video link from his cell in Guantanamo Bay. Arthur, a retired geography teacher originally from Batley, told us he was unable to get his daily copy of the Guardian or his usual gluten free porridge at the US base but otherwise seemed in good spirits. We asked Arthur where it had all gone wrong and how had a morning ramble in Cleckheaton led to his arrest and detention in Guantanamo. “Unfortunately I have discovered a problem with Naismith’s Rule. Having carefully planned my route using Naismith’s long established formula for distance covered and time taken I have found it does not work in Kirklees. The formula does not take account of the number of path obstructions and unauthorised structures on Kirklees paths that the rambler must either evade or climb over. This omission in Naismith’s otherwise dependable calculations added exactly ten minutes to my route and landed me here in an orange boiler suit in the clink.”
Back in the real world Northamptonshire Police could soon be checking your shopping
and Police in Rotherham suggest that you can’t let your kids play in your own garden. The government manage to evade any accountability of course. It’s ramblers, day trippers to Skegness and a lack of clapping. This reuters piece is worth a read and much closer to the truth of how we have got here. The Byline Times reports on the government’s plans for us all to get Covid 19 in as orderly fashion as possible.
The hysteria surrounding walking paths as a form of exercise during the current public lockdown has reached Holmfirth footpaths. For clarity have a read of this link on the new law bringing in the restrictions. You can walk public paths. There are no restrictions on driving a mile or two to do so. The police and all front line services have a difficult balancing act but it is reported here that they are now taking a more pragmatic approach to this issue and the drones have been grounded for now. West Yorkshire Police are reportedly not issuing warning letters for parked cars in walking areas locally. This LBQC from St. John’s Chambers is also worth reading. Time to put the pitchforks away and be sensible.
Any signs such as the one above or obstructions should be reported to Kirklees in the usual manner here firstname.lastname@example.org
PathWatch usually favours cock up rather than conspiracy as far as Kirklees Council is concerned however the case of Spenborough Footpath 110 is debatable. The council made a legal order to stop up and divert part of this path to permit development on 12th March 2020. That’s the day after the World Health Organisation declared a worldwide pandemic regarding Covid 19. The council wrote to statutory consultees on 19th March 2020 asking for any comments to be made by 1st May 2020.
It could just be bad timing of course or someone in the legal department who doesn’t get out much, go on the internet or even read a newspaper but it seems an odd and inappropriate time to be making orders diverting public footpaths. During the consultation time period the Council must legally post and maintain notices on site and advertise the order in the press. An interesting use of resources in the current chaos. Of course no member of the public can go to the site to assess the pros and cons of the diversion order under the current lockdown restrictions.
The site in question belongs to Kirklees. In June 2019 Kirklees applied to itself and obtained planning permission to demolish the existing building and build a new leisure centre. This included diversion of Spen Footpath 110. Subsequently Kirklees applied to itself to stop up and divert the part of Spen Footpath 110 affected and this is the order currently being advertised.
Like I say it could be bad timing and just a fortunate coincidence that this is a great time to slip something like this through.
Link to order consultation Public Path Diversion Near Spen Valley Leisure Centre (1)
The Welsh Government is bringing in The Health Protection (Coronavirus Leisure footpaths etc ) (Wales) Regul… to allow closure of public paths by local authorities in response to the current Covid 19 outbreak. At present there are no such restrictions in England.
Last weekend in England was something of a Covid 19 Bank Holiday. People flocked to our national parks and open spaces to enjoy the sun and new found freedom of unemployment. It’s hard to blame them. The UK Government seemed fairly relaxed about Covid 19 visiting the country on it’s gap year travels. However the locals and authorities were properly spooked by the frantic growth in rambling along with seaside scenes of the usual suspects quing for chips and ice cream . Arguably this mini walking craze partly prompted Boris’s Monday night lockdown, something which the deadly virus had noticeably failed to achieve on it’s own.