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 The Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was withdrawn which cost a further £300 etc etc.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.
Previously on PathWatch we reported on the legal challenge to the order confirmed by the planning inspectorate earlier this year. The order downgrading Huddersfield Byway 231 to a bridleway has been an expensive comedy of errors haplessly performed by Kirklees Council. Not to be undone the Planning Inspectorate went for a nuclear cock up option and have been found to have erred in law. The decision quashing the order is here 27 Nov 19 Sealed Consent Order -approved 21 Nov 19
So the badly drawn byway remains in situ.The planning Inspectorate have advised that “PINS is no longer involved and the matter has now been passed back to Kirklees MBC. It is up to Kirklees MBC to decide what to do next (e.g. abandon the claim or re-investigate the matter with a mind to making a new Order)” Oh dear….
Previously on PathWatch we’ve blogged about 2 large beech trees coming down on Colne Valley Bridleway 197 here and here . The trees came down in some wet & windy weather in September. Whilst it’s undoubtedly a tricky job to remove them, and one for an expert, the state this popular path has been left in after works to clear the trees is shocking.
The metal guard rail has been broken and left twisted across the path and one of the root balls has been left sat on the bridleway. There is no signing and guarding of the arboreal disaster and the public are left to take their chances.
Following on from the completion of Blackpool Bridge earlier this month a team of council staff have been in the valley carrying out a list of small maintenance jobs throughout this week. Here’s the list.
This work has been taken from footpath inspections carried out over the past 2 years on the local network by this blog. A few weeks ago Councillor Paul Davies contacted me to ask for any suggestions for path works as some resources were becoming available ie a team for a week. Paul also got 6 paths cleared of vegetation during the summer. This positive approach is unprecedented here in the Holme Valley and I hope it continues. It’s very useful to have a councillor who will listen and attempt to get something done. Light at the end of the tunnel?
It’s satisfying to see works being done which will benefit path users and to have resources directed at the network. There is agreement for some larger scale works in the next financial year with up to 4 schemes programmed and in addition the 3 footbridges in Morton Wood on the Kirklees Way are to be replaced (and temporarily repaired in the meantime). Remarkably this week the Biblical lake featured in Ramblers Must Walk On Water Say Council has been earmarked for repairs. The council has of course broken it’s vows before, most notably on Ramsden Road.
This is all very positive and although dealing with Kirklees has at times felt like being taken from your bed in the middle of the night to be waterboarded in a pool on Ramsden Road, left shivering and sobbing in your jim jams and having to beg a lift home from some passing land rover enthusiast who hates ramblers , it does seem worth it occasionally.
Clearly there are structural problems in just where Kirklees puts its rights of way responsibility and how much of a priority that work is given in comparison to the many other obligations and demands on the council. However these issues are not insurmountable.It would be good to see a move away from the dodgy deals which plague the councils approach to enforcement, a more positive attitude from managers and a much a more proactive maintenatnce regime alongside a Definitive Map and Statement fit for purpose. But let’s not get carried away.
A report on the Kirklees Climate Emergency was approved by the Council’s Cabinet on 13th November 2019. You might have thought that a carbon free network of public rights of way across the entire district would have got a little mention? How useful is this historical transport network? How can it be improved and updated to meet modern demands and be of relevance to the councils wish to become carbon neutral? How can it improve the quality of life and health of our unhealthy population and decrease demands on our NHS? That kind of thing.
Well you’d have thought wrong. Hardly a surprise because it was the Kirklees Cabinet that voted to stop maintaining public rights of way in 2015. That is perhaps a truthful indication of senior directors and politicians views on people using their legs,pedals or god forbid a horse as a means of transport.
However 4.9 of the councils aspirations in the approved plan says
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.
PathWatch has recorded council shenanigans on public rights of way in one small district over 2 years. It’s fair to say we haven’t really noticed the council promoting or developing sustainable and active travel etc etc. Or that Kirklees is a great place to walk and cycle etc etc. We have noticed the council failing on a regular basis to remove simple obstructions,maintain surfaces and ensure paths are open to the widest range of people by using BS5709.
However aspiration 4.9 is useful and it is something PathWatch will come back too. It’s certainly a helpful benchmark to measure council performance against. Of course any council manager worth his or her pay grade will recite “it’s only an aspiration” as a get out of jail free card.
The council has this week refused to undertake some simple repairs to a couple of large inland lakes on Ramsden Road. At present these lakes force pedestrians off the road onto a very narrow,muddy verge and up against two strands of tensioned barbed wire. The council who spent £10,000 on an abandoned Traffic Regulation Order and associated works will not fork out £1500 to rectify this obvious hazard. Instead they hold their corporate hands up and hide behind Friends Of Ramsden Road.
When viewed through the prism of Aspiration 4.9 they look even worse than normal.
Some 10 weeks on the two beech trees across this popular route remain in situ. A couple of blokes with a chainsaw were on site today scratching heads and deciding it was beyond them. Fair enough, this is a job for a qualified and experienced tree firm.
Just why Kirklees have not treated this situation with a greater sense of priority is anyone’s guess. There is nothing to stop them clearing this themselves as they would if this was a vehicular highway or serving notice on the owner which would only take 3 weeks.
The trees hang over the bridleway forcing walkers to duck and blocking it completely for riders. The crowns of the trees are in the river and subject to movement with the rise and fall of the flow. The root balls sit on top of a high dry stone retaining wall with a noticeable amount of water pouring out from behind it. All looks quite precarious.