Holme Valley Circular Walk

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This really is an excellent route consisting of 22 and a bit miles around the edge of the valley taking in moorland,woods, rolling fields,cloughs and Castle Hill. A walk to really get the feel of this place.

It is something of an under used asset and could be so much more. It doesn’t seem to be waymarked as one long walk and although there aren’t any obstructions there are the usual unauthorised and dodgy stiles, barbed wire and a complete lack of coherent signing/waymarking.

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Barbed wire guard of honour at Farnley Tyas

The amount of stuff you have to climb over in a 22 mile walk gets a bit waring. Most of it is unauthorised and out of repair. If these stiles and Heath Robinson structures were removed and a quality waymarking scheme put in place a walk like this could really attract stay over visitors to the valley. It would be quite possible to link into the route from Holmfirth or Honley and make a weekend of it.

As it is the Holme Valley Circular Walk is perhaps a little too challenging for the wrong kind of reasons at present.

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An unauthorised and non BS:5709 compliant gate on the Holme Valley Circular Walk. Complete with barbed wire next to the latch.
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Unhinged

Holmfirth Footpath 135 Goes Under The Plough.

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Freshly ploughed.

In a race against time I thought I could squeeze one more evening walk in on Footpath 135 before it clocked off beneath plough and crops for another 10 months. See here and here .Alas it was not to be. The path was being ploughed out as I battled my way across. This is legitimate but the farmer is legally obliged to reinstate the line of the path on the ground so that it is convenient to use and apparent within 14 days. So by about the end of September. It never happens and our local council who have responsibility to ensure it does happen know all about it and usually do nowt.

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Gone!

Public footpaths aren’t really intended to be part time but from now until late July 2020 Holmfirth Footpath 135 is working from home or on extended sick leave. An out of office message would be useful on these sort of paths.

Holmfirth Footpath 135 – Obstruction Removed!

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The longstanding obstruction on Holmfirth 135.

The longstanding dry stone wall obstruction on Holmfirth Footpath 135 has been removed.  This path has been blocked for donkeys years and it is very pleasing to see it open. Just needs a sign on on Intake Lane.

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New gate reopening the path. 

Thanks are due once again to the staff involved 🙂

BS:5709. How Hard Can It Be?

Holmfirth 146 Upper Millshaw Gate

Although Kirklees is part of the United Kingdom, and even better still  Yorkshire, it  seems to exist in a vacuum as far as applying the law and widely agreed standards and practices on public rights of way. In particular the Council has great difficulty with the 40 year old BS:5709 .

The image above shows the latest modifications to a gate on Holmfirth Footpath 146 which was authorised in November 2017. In the time since and for various reasons including a padlock and chain, barbed wire, wooden splinters and excavated ground (not an exhaustive list! Ed) the gate has never met the simple requirements of BS:5709 .

Whilst the latest modification adding a “Bold” washing powder  container (other brands are available. Ed) to cover wood splinters on the closing post  is to be commended for its innovative recycling of  single use plastic, that’s not really the point of BS:5709

It’s impossible for front line staff at Kirklees to effectively carry out their roles on public rights of way because of the toxic and anti public access culture that exists amongst senior managers and some councillors. The mildest of challenges from a landowner or their representative results in Kirklees managers and directors falling over themselves to apologise for  staff doing their jobs properly,offering to review procedures (which are perfectly fine) and taking long walks to pick up dummies spat out by councillors.  The result is no one rocks the boat to much and many public paths remain blocked, unusable,invisible and maintained to the lowest possible standard.

So after 20 months of Chuckle Brother Esque Carry On Up The Footpath nonsense it might be reasonable to expect removal of the gate on Footpath 146? After all the conditions authorising it’s installation (which the landowner signed up for) have not been met. So it should not be there hindering free passage. How hard can it be?

Impossible it would seem. In the upside down world of Kirklees Council this gate was mentioned in a report  to the July 18th Planning Sub Committee. “Further liaison”  is to take place! 🙂 🙂 🙂 What can there be to talk about? Perhaps a Daz plastic container should be used?

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A BS:5709 gate. The spec does not included plastic washing powder containers or string which won’t go over the closing post to open the gate.

 

 

Prow Officer Delegation. Importance High.

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Under s147 of the Highways Act 1980 the Council,as highway authority, has powers to authorise the erection of gates,stiles or other structures on public rights of way. Landowners must obtain this authority prior to erecting any new structure on a public path.

The circumstances for granting authority are pretty limited and usually agricultural in nature. Best practice is to keep paths clear of structures as far as possible and go for the least restrictive option such as a gap or gate rather than any type of stile. The structure should meet BS:5709  

The days of putting up any old thing on a path are gone and any structure not properly authorised or in conflict with the councils obligations under the disability discrimination act are rightly open to challenge.

In Kirklees the straightforward  s147 process is delegated to officer level and is carried out very well. The rights of way network is slowly improving as outdated and unauthorised structures which limit who can use the network are removed and replaced with something fitting BS:5709.

Holme Valley South Councillor Nigel Patrick contacted the Council’s senior legal officer in November 2018 to ask if a delegated officer decision under s147 can be referred to committee if he is unhappy with it.

Is Councillor Patrick  unhappy because of an excess of poor stiles and structures being authorised by officers ? Or is he unhappy because of something else?

Councillor Patrick’s request is certainly an interesting one. Decisions under s147 are very straight forward as the law is  clear on the limited circumstances a council can authorise a structure on a public right of way. Most councils delegate a wide range of simple decision making to officer level for the efficient running of the authority. The suggestion of  s147 decisions being subject of a committee approval would make the whole process more bureaucratic, expensive and inefficient. Who would it benefit?

 

 From: Cllr Nigel Patrick
Sent: 29 November 2018 16:58
To: Julie Muscroft <Julie.Muscroft@kirklees.gov.uk>
Subject: PROW Officer Delegation and the Constitution
Importance: High
Dear Julie,
Officers in public rights of way are making decisions under the officer scheme of delegation. For example officers
decide if a structure, like a gate, can be authorised under s147 of the Highways Act. As a ward councillor who may
be unhappy with an officer recommendation/ decision, can I ask that an officer recommendation/decision is
referred to a committee for decision and if so which committee?
Please advise
Thanks
Councillor Nigel Patrick
Holme Valley South Ward
Kirklees Council

From: Cllr Nigel Patrick
Sent: 07 December 2018 17:18
To: Julie Muscroft <Julie.Muscroft@kirklees.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: PROW Officer Delegation and the Constitution
Dear Julie,
Rob and have told me I cannot refer things to a committee. I know DMMO’s and Diversion applications go to
committee, but I have been told that a S147 authorisation for new structures on a prow cannot be determined by
committee. Is that true?
Then we look at committee. I am a sub for planning committees which means I can attend any of the planning
committees including strategic. As you know we get annual update training which we are forced to attend. I have
never been trained in prow matters so why are prow matters taken to these committees? Is it not time we had a
Highways Committee which dealt with prow matters and the committee members were trained in prow matters?
This would solve many of the problems which are piling up. Far too many for planning committees to deal with. They
are busy enough. We use to have a Planning and Highways Committee so why not bring it back but just call it the
Highways Committee?
Can this be done and if so how?
Councillor Nigel Patrick
Holme Valley South Ward
Kirklees Council

Erringden Footpath 13

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A rather photogenic path obstruction

A change is as good as a rest they say and the opportunity to look at a path obstruction in Calderdale turned into a bit of a treat. Erringden is the smallest parish in the great sweep of Calderdale and clings to the flanks of Stoodley Pike.

All I had to go on was an iffy grid reference and the words “South West of Cruttonstall”. I knew I was onto something good climbing through rustling,mossy woods in my pedestrian time machine. Clearly there’d never been car access to this place!

Reassuringly I came across the usual barbed wire encrusted waymarks and see saw stiles which are such a part of walking. Such features are so commonplace on public paths the average rambler would feel unsettled without them confirming the way ahead.

Cruttonstall is listed but the dry words offer no description of the real place which positively oozes the essence of Ted Hughes’ sideburns. On a raw afternoon with a biting East wind hurling Curlew babbles at Stoodley Pike it was a wonderful place to be.

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The path to Cruttonstall.