A public inquiry is to be held next week into the soup of claims and stopping ups on the paths at Clayton Fields,Edgerton,Huddersfield. A flavour of this particular disaster can be read in Clayton Fields – Peak Parody? There have been further developments since that article but even PathWatch lost track (got bored?Ed) of the councils tortuous efforts to deny public access to a popular urban greenspace and build houses on it instead.
If you are having trouble sleeping the Inquiry starts at 10.00am on 21st January 2020 at Brian Jackson House,New North Parade,Huddersfield. HD1 5JP.
In the topsy turvy upside down world of Kirklees Public Rights of Way, the Council, who have a legal duty to stop public paths being obstructed and to assert the public’s right to use rights of way, are going to great lengths (and expense?Ed) to ensure a water trough can stay on a public footpath rather than just ..well…move it.
It would appear that moving it to keep the path clear and avoid potential damage by animals visiting the trough is far to simple a solution for our hapless highway authority. Instead they will “monitor the situation and reserve the councils position regarding trough siting and operation” (we’re not making this up! Ed)
The matter has been dealt with by Karl Battersby, Strategic Director of Economy & Infrastructure. Mr Battersby recently wrote to a local ward Councillor regarding the trough and advised that the “water trough placed on the route is not authorised but again we will not take action”. (Has austerity cut so deep at Kirklees Council that the only person left to deal with such a minor public rights of way issue is a Strategic Director? .Ed)
Is Mr Battersby condoning the obstruction of a public footpath here? The councils footpaths officer has advised Mr Battersby that the trough “may be an obstruction” and that “siting of troughs on/near public rights of way is not encouraged and its placement and use may cause problems”. How is the the public interest and the councils statutory duties to keep paths open and to assert public rights being met in this case? How are the councils wider obligations as a service provider under the Disability Discrimination Act being met by allowing an “unauthorised” structure to sit on a 1.2 metre wide footpath? Did Mr Battersby take any of these points into consideration when making his decision?
Permitting paths to be obstructed or partially obstructed in this manner does not seem to fit with the councils recently stated aim contained in it’s Climate Emergency Plan that “The Council will continue to develop and promote sustainable and active travel and ensure that Kirklees is recognised as a great place to walk and cycle, inspiring more people to walk and cycle more often as a mode of transport, for work, leisure or for sport”. The Council also have a target of increasing walking by 20% in the plan. Will putting water troughs on footpaths help achieve this? Or will it make paths unattractive and difficult to use? Or impossible to use should you have a disability?
Sadly there is no detail in Mr Battersby’s correspondence regarding how the unauthorised trough will be monitored. Will it be visited daily,weekly or monthly by Mr Battersby? Perhaps the Prow satellite can be redirected to orbit the trough on a regular basis to see what it’s up to? Will ramblers be encouraged to befriend the trough when they can’t get down the path because of it?
After a quiet period chart wise the path became a Christmas no.1 for 2019 and hits the new year at the top of the charts. As you can see from the photos the public path has been obliterated by works associated with a nearby development. The legal line of the path has gone and so to the proposed diversion (new path) approved by kirklees as a splendid idea at committee in July 2019.
This could be top of the path pickers charts for months to come…. Whatever you do don’t try to walk it.
One of the small jobs done by Kirklees as a result of input from Councillor Paul Davies was the clearance of long standing vegetation from a flight of steps on Holmfirth Footpath 85. As you can see from the final photo in this piece the steps were so overgrown you’d hardly know a public footpath existed. This type of long term neglect is typical in the Holme Valley.
The steps need some TLC themselves now that they are back with us. As you can see from the photo above there is a longstanding drainage issue at the bottom of the steps completely obstructing further passage. This still needs addressing a year after making the Highway Authority aware.
Previously on PathWatch we’ve blogged about a couple of large beech trees coming down on this popular bridleway and the sluggish response to getting them cleared. After last weeks job half done it’s pleasing to report that the route is now clear. The broken guardrail has also been cleared away. It will be interesting to see if this ever gets replaced.
A number of readers got in touch following our recent Tyne,Dogger,Fisher,German Bite,Er…Ramsden Road. report to ask the name of the “listing wreck” shown beached by the Ramsden Road “sea”. PathWatch can reveal that this vessel is not in fact a nautical wreck but more of a bureaucratic wreck of the Cock Up Funded By You variety.
It is of course the final resting place of the gate put in by Kirklees Council to stop motor vehicles accessing and damaging Ramsden Road. The gate cost £2,500 of taxpayers money. It was used for 3 days. The gate was there to enforce the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order which cost another £6,000 . The Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was withdrawn which cost a further £300 etc etc. Bit like the old lady that swallowed a fly? It just goes on and on without end and all at public expense.
The flat 2,000 metre section of Ramsden Road which was always the best bit in terms of condition is now cratered and full of water throughout its length due to vehicle damage. This has happened over the past 12 months and will require far more work and expense than would have been required had the gate been locked and left in place for 18 months as planned and paid for by…well…you get the picture.
The publicly funded repairs of Summer 2018 are shot to pieces by 4×4 usage. This work and tax payers money would have been protected by the gate and Experimental Traffic Regulation Order. But it now all needs fixing again.
Kirklees may be on the brink of funding £16,500 worth of repairs with public money to this flat top section of Ramsden Road and permitting continued vehicular use. This is despite council managers views that 4×4 usage of the lane is contributing to it’s damage and that any works need protecting from 4×4’s for a period of time. That time span was a minimum of 18 months as laid out in the 2018 Experimental Traffic Regulation Order.
PathWatch has asked the council for clarification regarding any financial contribution towards Ramsden Road and the apparent contradiction with it’s long held position that a TRO is needed to protect the route from 4×4’s. Friends of Ramsden Road who have submitted the costed proposals to Kirklees recorded that “Kirklees appears to be prepared to take on the cost of the work and has said that FoRR can contribute with matched volunteer hours and should also seek to involve local businesses to contribute materials etc.
If this is correct Kirklees would appear to be putting substantial amounts of public money at risk by funding works that will be vulnerable to vehicular damage and that they know may well fail. Why would any public authority behave in this manner?
Finally the two grand gate has now been removed from its hinges and laid in the grass. It must of been a hazard to passing shipping after all.