When is a gate not a gate? 4

GateGate (1 of 1)
Negotiating the gate.

Who’d have thought this would have run to 4 blog posts? I’m beginning to think this could go to a second series.

Yorkshire Water have previously confirmed that the land belongs to them and that as long ago as 4th July 2017 they asked their tenant to remove the boulders.  That’s a full 8 weeks ago. I wonder why it is taking so long?

It’s interesting to compare this lack of activity on Yorkshire Water’s behalf with the situation at Bartin & Greaves Planning Applications which are a just a few hundred metres away . Having met a lot of well argued objections to these proposals Yorkshire Water (Keyland developments) have submitted some 6 reports/letters, compiled by consultants Wardell Armstrong to peak park planners in an attempt to justify the planning applications see here. One can only imagine the resources involved to produce these reports in such a small space of time. The planning consultations ended on 16th June and the reports arguing against the consultees are dated July. So it’s likely that a polite request to remove a simple obstruction from a public path on Yorkshire Water land has already taken up more time but produced no results. Why not put a kissing gate here ? Stock proof and pedestrian friendly. Kissing Gate Spec

Yorkshire Water has 2 tenants in this area and they are clearly capable people who run businesses and can meet deadlines. This is demonstrated by the fact that between them they claim over one hundred thousand pounds in public money via the CAP payments scheme. A condition of receiving such payments is that all rights of way on the land associated with the claim are open for public use. See here Cross Compliance

 

 

 

Doing the right thing

Unlike the hapless Kirklees Council Ceredigion County Council do things differently. Fair enough give someone a chance to do the right thing but if they don’t then use all the legal powers available. Here in Kirklees the council  eagerly appease law breakers as a first and only option. Doing things right is cheaper, more effective, gives the public confidence and is of course what the council should be doing!

FP (1 of 1)
It is in fact a public path.

 

When is a gate not a gate 3

Roadsideview (1 of 1)
The obstructed gate is top rightish in this photo where the wood is.
Following on from yesterday’s episode we contacted Yorkshire Water again to highlight the lack of progress.
I have walked this path again today and no attempt has been made to clear the boulders.
Could you please clarify if Yorkshire Water itself are responsible for the land and obstruction or whether it is entirely the Tennant’s responsibility?
I have also reported the issue to Kirklees Council but have heard nothing.
As such I believe I can myself serve a notice on the Council for removal of the obstructions and they are obliged to serve notice on the persons responsible hence my query above.
The issue would ultimately be resolved at Huddersfield Magistrate Court should the obstructions remain.
Regards
The following response was received this morning. As is the way with official bodies it doesn’t answer what was asked but seems slightly panicky and defensive.

Thank you for notifying this.

I have made numerous attempts to the tenant and still nothing has been
done.

Myself and another colleague are looking into this. As we will need to take
action on this matter.

So Yorkshire Water are “looking into this” and “will need to take action”. That’s a little disappointing considering the length of time this difficult obstruction has now been in place and the degree of inconvenience which is being caused to the public.
We contacted Yorkshire Water directly as the Highway Authority, Kirklees Council, seems to have disregarded its own legal obligations with regard to public rights of way  and enforcement. The hope was that Yorkshire Water would be able to sort out this relatively straightforward issue in a timely manner by speaking directly to its Tenant.
However Kirklees Council, who are responsible for the footpath and for keeping it open and available for public use were informed on 17th July 2017 of the obstruction. They very helpfully and gave us our own unique reference number.
Your unique reference number is: 3578243
Your request will be dealt with as soon as possible. Kind regards,
Kirklees Council
Since we’ve heard nothing further we contacted Kirklees Council again today and they very helpfully gave us another unique reference number!
Your unique reference number is: 3590269
Your request will be dealt with as soon as possible. Kind regards,
Kirklees Council
The point of all this is to demonstrate how under valued and increasingly forgotten our public rights of way network  is becoming. No one wants to know. There is no self remedy here. The boulders need a machine to move them and most walkers don’t carry that kind of kit!
Kirklees Council is super keen at the moment on people volunteering in its parks,open spaces and public rights of way Natural Kirklees. It seems to be a one way street with the council  happily taking  free labour and publicity but refusing to carry out the work which volunteers cannot do such as removal of illegal obstructions. You can of course have as many unique reference numbers as you wish!
Bartin (1 of 1)

The cost of doing nothing 2

Byway 221 obstruction 1 (1 of 1)

Kirklees Council continues to tie itself in knots over Huddersfield Byway 231. The recent planning applications at Nether Moor Farm illustrate the council’s duplicity on the issue.

Back in October 2015 the Director of Place, Jacqui Gedman suggested in an email to one of the 50 members of the public who have reported the byway blocked that –

As you are aware the status of this route is disputed by the landowners, who have not accepted the classification of Byway Open to All Traffic, and feel that it is in fact a permissive route that they now wish to withdraw permission from.

As such the land owners have put up a number of obstructions and placed signage that supports that view.

Regards

Jacqui Gedman

This has been the Council’s position for the past two years and has been relied on as an argument for permitting  the closure of Byway 231.

Surprisingly  the council also hold the view that Huddersfield Byway 231 at Nether Moor Farm does in fact exist and is not in dispute. This has been shown through the planning consultation process and is available for anyone to see at Huddersfield Byway 231 Planning process

As can be seen in the Planning Notice below (signed by the very same Jacqui Gedman, Director of Place) there is a clear and unambiguous footnote which refers to  Byway 231 and advises the applicant   that “public byway 231 must not be interfered with or obstructed”.

Here’s an extract from the Notice –

Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 PLANNING PERMISSION FOR DEVELOPMENT
Application Number: 2016/62/92802/W

Note:Public footpath HUD/233/10 and public Byway HUD/231/20 must not be interfered with or obstructed, prior to, during or after development works. The Council’s Public Right of Way unit may be contacted at Civic Centre 3, Huddersfield or by telephone no. 

Dated: 28-Oct-2016
Signed:
Jacqui Gedman Director of Place

The information which this footnote is based on comes from advice from the council’s public rights of way section . This is what they said when consulted on 17th October 2016. Again it is very clear and  unambiguous – Huddersfield Byway 231 at Nether Moor Farm does exist and should not be obstructed. No mention of any doubt as to its status.

2016/92802 & 2016/92803 Nether Moor Farm – PROW

No objection from public rights of way to the development proposal, please add to any consent the usual PROW FOOTNOTE regarding obstruction and interference of public rights of way (public byway open to all traffic Huddersfield 231 and public footpath Huddersfield 233).

PathWatch has contacted the council to ask for for an explanation regarding how the council can hold these two opposing views and in particular where has the council obtained information which proves the byway does exist? And why is it spending up to £10k of public money with Leeds City Council to investigate a status issue it seems to know the answer too? We didn’t just ask anyone we asked Jacqui Gedman (now Chief Executive) who has said the route is in dispute ( email of October 2015) but has also said categorically the route exists and should not be obstructed (Planning Notice October 2016)

As is the council’s way our questions were passed to someone more junior who had not written the email of October 2015 or signed the Planning Notice in 2016 and so perhaps was not the ideal person to answer. This first response  largely ignored the questions asked but instead answered imagined queries which justified the status quo –

“There is no irreconcilable conflict between the current temporary abatement of enforcement action and the standard informative footnotes provided in planning decision notices”

Eventually the council owned up to the following.

“KC PROW would appear to have considered Hud/231 to be a BOAT over some decades. It has been referred to as a BOAT over many years. Officers were advised that it was appropriate for the council to consider it a BOAT. The way is described as a BOAT in the definitive statement. This is part of the legal advice received which we have already identified to you as privileged.” 

NB BOAT is a byway open to all traffic

Clearly the Council has legal advice (which it will not make public) which states that the council should treat the Huddersfield Byway 231 as a byway. There is no element of doubt or challenge in that advice. The Council appear to be accepting that advice for purposes of the planning process but ignoring it when asked by the public to reopen the byway.

The Council should be far more transparent with the public on it’s dealings with Huddersfield Byway 231. It should –

  1. Publish all costs to date associated with the case.
  2. Publish the legal advice it has received on the matter.
  3. Explain fully why it holds two opposing views on the status of the byway.
  4. Agree an action plan with the public and user groups to reopen the byway quickly and at minimum cost.
  5. Investigate the landowners claims of status in a timely and efficient manner.
  6. Apologise for it’s performance to date.It’s worth noting that the taxpayer has footed the Council’s bill to date on this case to the tune of some £19,000 to £24,000 which we think is likely to be a fairly conservative figure. The landowner at this site has received some £12,776 of public subsidy for the years 2015 and 2016 whilst the byway has been obstructed. Cap Payments 2015

    Cap Payments 2016