Ramsden Road Kirklees V Jacob’s Ladder Derbyshire

 

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Both these Byways are located within the Peak District National Park (in the case of Ramsden Road the section of byway most out of repair & problematic falls within the park boundary) . Both have very similar  long standing issues relating to damage by vehicles, water damage and conflict between vehicles and other users.  However both byways have different Highway Authorities responsible for them. Ramsden Road has Kirklees Metropolitan Council whilst Jacob’s Ladder has Derbyshire County Council.

The difference in the decision making processes regarding the future of each byway by its respective highway authority  is striking.

Officers at Derbyshire County Council have compiled a 19 page  report which will be presented to the County’s Highways Committee later this month. The report contains results of an extensive public consultation on the proposals for the byway which involved over  1000 responses. Various Defra policies on byways are referenced along with the councils policy on green lanes and a detailed officer analysis. Financial and legal considerations are explained in detail and there is a list of referenced background papers. There’s much in this report applicable to Kirklees and Ramsden Road and it is well worth a read. Most of what it covers has never been taken into account  properly by Kirklees in respect of  Ramsden Road.

In contrast there is no transparent decision making process here in Kirklees, no report on Ramsden Road, no traffic survey, no reference to Defra policy, no local policy, no site survey, no consultation and no record of any legitimate decision making process for the council’s current course of action.  Kirklees Council as Highway Authority for Ramsden Road have said on record that its decision on Ramsden Road was “was based on a visual assessment of the road and discussion with colleagues and the Peak Park on the most equitable way forward”. No date of when this decision was taken, no details of who was involved, what information it was based on, absolutely no record of it whatsoever.

Again it is well worth reading the Jacob’s letter report as an example of how these matters should be properly dealt with.

 

This report concerns Jacob’s ladder which is a byway at Stoney Middleton rather than the bridleway in Edale of the same name.

 

Bank Holiday Fun On Ramsden Road.

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4×4 negotiating Ramsden Road, Peak District National Park

The decline in the condition of Ramsden Road continues and indeed would seem to be accelerating. These images were taken on the long sloped section which is within the Peak District National Park. Some 12 years or so ago when a local petition was raised to Kirklees Council about the condition of the road and use by 4×4 vehicles the road looked like this.

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Ramsden Road 2007

 It was just at the point of perhaps being repairable and it’s rural character saved. Sadly the Council, subject to a toxic mix of ineptitude and political interference, did nothing. The sloping section in the Peak Park has gone completely now and is recognised as being unsafe by the Council.

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The cattle grid in 2019. The structure is breaking up in situ.

 

That same toxic soup of ineptitude and political interference drives the Council in 2019. Walkers are vulnerable users and have to negotiate a surface akin to walking on marbles, deep ruts, holes, a broken cattle grid and of course 4×4’s and motorbikes. Who is standing up for pedestrian users? Certainly not our local tory councillors who are determined to protect motorbikes and 4×4’s and in doing so prolong the mess in England’s most popular National Park .

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Motorbike on Ramsden Road,Peak District National Park

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The 2009 Cabinet Report On Ramsden Road. A Missed Opportunity.

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Ramsden Road 2007
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The same section of Ramsden Road in February 2019

PathWatch has obtained a copy of a report on Ramsden Road written by Kirklees Officers for approval by the Councils Cabinet in 2009. The report was the outcome of several petitions from local people and other members of the public  from 2006 onwards in an admirable  effort to have the road repaired and secure a Traffic Regulation Order to protect these repairs.

The photo at the top of this article shows a section of Ramsden Road in July 2007. The second photo shows the same section 12 years later. This is what inaction and council waffle results in.

There’s no record of this report ever making it to Cabinet for a decision or any explanation as to why this did not happen. This seems odd and something of a missed opportunity. Clearly the senior officers who put the report together had done a reasonable job in the expectation that a democratic decision would be made by elected members.

Fast forward to late 2017 and senior council officers again decide that a Traffic Regulation Order is required to assist in the restoration of Ramsden Road. This time money is spent and an order is made in late 2018. In fact Ramsden Road is closed physically by a gate and bollards as a result of the TRO but only for a few days. The order is full of mistakes and needed redoing but mysteriously the whole idea of a TRO is dropped without explanation. See here.

It’s clear from the 2009 report that council officers understand the problems on Ramsden Road and grasp what is needed to put things right. However any effort to put a plan into action for some reason fails. Genuine requests from the public, residents and non motorised users of Ramsden Road are ignored time and again and the condition of the Road deteriorates year on year.

There is a complete lack of transparency on how the council has dealt ( or not dealt? Ed) with Ramsden Road. Key decisions by officers have been overturned behind closed doors on more than one occasion. Cabinet reports don’t make it to cabinet without explanation and the concerns and requests of residents and users are completely ignored.

Having back tracked as far as it is possible to go since December 2018 Kirklees are now pleading poverty and expecting a Friends of Ramsden Road Group to miraculously haul them out of the mire. The sad fact is that had the council acted in line with its statutory duties and in the public interest back in 2006 the difficulties it faces today on Ramsden Road would not exist.

Lets hope there are grants available to fund and rectify highway authority negligence!

The full report can be read here CAB-08-120-S PET 845 Ramsden Rd 

 

Miles Without Stiles.

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What passes for a stile here in Kirklees

The Peak District National Park has been recognised for its work in improving access for all with an award from Accessible Derbyshire.

The local path network in the Holme Valley and wider Kirklees is littered with poorly maintained and unauthorised stiles like the one shown above near Emley. If there was an award for miles with stiles the Kirklees area would be a front runner.

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Many of these stiles and other structures have no right to be there having been added, modified or left to decay since the Definitive Map recording rights and limitations came into being.

It is, or at least should be, a very straightforward matter to either get them removed,repaired or properly specified and authorised. However this being  you know where it’s like pushing water uphill trying to get our local highway authority to engage with the matter.

The end result of this indifference is far less places to walk and enjoy the countryside if you have any kind of physical condition limiting your mobility, sight or even if you’re just getting on a bit.

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Blackpool Bridge 2

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Some 8 months after making our less than conscientious highway authority aware that one of it’s bridges was in need of some TLC things on site at Blackpool Bridge have predictably deteriorated further.

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Great Dane Provided For Scale.

More decking is coming away from the rotten cross beams, the handrail is full of rot and sports a good wobble when touched. However on a more positive note some public spirited walkers have propped up one of the cross beams on rocks!

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Rotten Handrail

Hopefully our Comedy Council Leader will have met some bargain basement Chinese bridge builders on his recent holiday..er…business trip to the People’s Republic.

Peak Park comes up trumps on Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 189.

 

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Pleased to report that the Peak District National Park have written to Yorkshire Water (Keyland Developments) regarding the woeful resurfacing works on Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 189. Whilst clearly constrained by planning law and the hapless actions of Kirklees the letter is a positive response to the concerns of the many users who have contacted the park on the issue and is in stark contrast to the complete lack of action or interest from our council. The letter was copied to me and I reproduce most of it here.

I understand that you are the surveyor at Keyland who has been dealing with the works to the Holmfirth public bridleways numbers 68 & 189, which serve the buildings at Greaves Head and Bartin.  You will be aware that the National Park Authority  has recently dealt with planning and listed building applications for proposals to reintroduce the residential use of the houses.  All four applications were refused at the Planning Committee on 13 October (please see this link for the Committee reportshttps://democracy.peakdistrict.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=132&MId=1591&Ver=4 ).

My  purpose in writing to you is to express my concern at the works that have been carried out to the track which serves these buildings.  I should say that the works are likely to be “permitted development” and would not require planning permission under Part 9 of the General Permitted Development Order 2015, which allows improvement and repair works to tracks, so we do not think that there has been a breach of planning regulations.  I am also aware that you have received permission from Kirklees Council, as Highway Authority, for the works.  I understand that this was subject to agreement on the precise stone to be used in the surfacing works.  Notwithstanding this, we have received several complaints about the extent and appearance of the work that has been carried out, particularly the colour and size of the surfacing material, which is very light and fine textured, giving an inappropriate compacted appearance covering the whole width of the track.  Given that this is a popular bridleway in a relatively wild area, these works are out of keeping with the appearance and enjoyment of the area. 

I have been advised that the works were carried out either by or on behalf of Yorkshire Water, but that you may have been involved; I do not have a contact at Yorkshire Water so I would be grateful if you would let  me know who I should contact if it is not you.  I think it is important for me to say that the works to the track do not change the National Park Authority’s position regarding the principle of  re-introducing a residential use to Greaves Head and Bartin, as the reports to Planning Committee should make clear.

Finally, I would ask that you or Yorkshire Water consider carrying out works to reduce the harsh and inappropriate appearance of the track following the resurfacing works. 

Holmfirth Bridleway 68 & 169 – “Nothing to see here now run along” response from Kirklees

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The grey concrete style stone blending in nicely.

If like me you contacted Kirklees Council this week about the resurfacing of these bridleways with a “sandstone” that has the appearance of concrete you’ll have received a classic fob off email this afternoon. It’s taken from the Kirklees Infinite Book of Excuses “Easy ways to avoid answering tricky questions” chapter. Basically select one thing you are right about and ignore everything else.

In my case I had checked with the Council about the surfacing material which looked like a dry concrete mix. The appearance is so convincing the Council had to take a sample and get reassurances from Kelder Group which included a receipt from the quarry. I never mentioned the bridleway being concreted in my email. And had clarified that point on here.

I still got this email answering a question I hadn’t asked

This email is blind copied to recipients. Thank you for contacting Kirklees council.

The Council received reports earlier in the year from the public, regarding works to the above bridleways, undertaken on behalf of the landowner. Council officers concluded that the works were inappropriate and that further work would be required. The contractor had permission from Kirklees PROW to carry out more recent works, laying a top dressing over parts of the bridleway. The specification for the recent surfacing material was 20mm to dust sandstone aggregate. Council officers have confirmation from the quarry that this is what was delivered. The specification agreed with the landowner did not include agreement to add cement, and the contractor undertaking the works for the landowner states that none has been added during the surfacing works. We have samples of the surfacing material from the site, both before and after the works.

This email is copied to officials at Peak District NPA, who have been contacted by some of you.

The “jog on pal” response ignores the questions I asked…

  1. As kelder Group have not used a local stone can the council ask them to remove all the limestone and grey stone from the bridleways?
  2. Can the Council advise Kelder Group that no further works are to be carried out on the bridleways without a full consultation with the peak park and user groups?
  3. I also highlighted the poor standard of work, the leaching of the grey stone onto adjacent land and the fact that the bridleways were not out of repair.

There’s a quarry about a mile away which could have  supplied a local stone which when weathered would match what is on the bridleway. Tingley quarry is 20 miles away and obviously produces a different quality of stone in terms of colour and texture. It simply does not fit the sensitive environment it has been placed in.

Kirklees were on the ball with their robust response to the planning applications but have  managed to snatch  defeat from the jaws of victory with the attitude taken towards these awful resurfacing works.

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The bridleways original condition

Kirklees seem to think Kelder Group are an altruistic organisation who completely out of the blue wish to resurface a public bridleway at their own expense. Meanwhile back in the real world most of us can put two and two together and see the works for what they really are. An attempt to improve vehicular access to Bartin & Greaves Farms in connection with two recently refused planning applications which may yet go to appeal.

It’s no surprise that Kirklees sides with those wishing to take advantage of public property for  private gain. It’s much easier than doing things properly  and I suspect far less scary for them to send out a “Round Robin” email to concerned members of the public telling them to get lost rather than challenge a private company.