Regular readers will recall PathWatch inquiries via the Freedom of Information Act here into how a Council decision to put an Environmental Traffic Regulation order banning 4×4’s from Ramsden Road was overturned in December 2018. The result of this decision is that any works carried out to repair Ramsden Road will be instantly vulnerable to damage by motor vehicles. The Council identified 4×4 damage as a problem as far back as 2004 and of course spent £10k and all of 2018 securing an ETRO in order to protect proposed works from 4×4 damage. It’s abrupt change of mind never made any sense.
When asked how the decision was made to abandon the ETRO Kirklees stated that “The decision was based on a visual assessment of the road and discussion with colleagues and the Peak Park on the most equitable way forward.” No dates, names, new evidence on the effect of 4×4’s or outline of the process were provided. Presumably whoever wrote that is an up and coming comedian or an expert in evasion?
After an unseemly delay the Council’s Head Of Legal Services has completed a review and in respect of the answer above says –
However, my conclusion is that the council’s response to item 3 in your request – “please also provide information which shows who at Kirklees Council took the decision not to proceed with the ETRO on Ramsden Road and the reason behind this decision:-“ does not fully comply with the requirements of the Act and Regulations. I have therefore decided that this matter should be referred back to the relevant service and that you should be provided with further information as to who took the decision not to proceed with the ETRO and, if the council holds further information on this point, additional information has to be reasoning behind the decision.
I therefore partially uphold your request for a review. I have referred this matter back to the council’s Information Governance Team with a request that they reconsider the matter and that supplementary information (if any) is provided to you as soon as reasonably practicable.
Of course there are a number of caveats as to why the Council may not have to provide this information but we will wait and see. More on this in due course.
As ever with our hapless Council there is a rich irony here. The Head of Legal Services undertook the review and of course it was the errors made by legal services in the drafting of the ETRO which set off this unfortunate chain of events.
Derbyshire County Council are open,transparent and follow their authorities decision making process. Kirklees take more of a nudge,nudge,wink,wink approach and hold no record or documentation relating to their decision to overturn a delegated officer decision and drop their Ramsden Road TRO last December, having spent some £10k of public money in the process.
This is an interesting approach to doing things as it would appear to be well outside the Council’s constitution in terms of its decision making processes and of course shows the usual disregard for public money, residents concerns and the long suffering tax payer who funds it all.
Derbyshire have now made a TRO for Jacob’s Ladder at Stoney Middleton and because they follow due process the order and background information can be viewed at tro-jacobs-ladder . Kirklees have not followed the decision making process laid down in the Council’s constitution and it may be worth reading your tea leaves or seeing Mystic Meg as alternative sources of information.
It is some 7 months on from Kirklees Council’s unexplained decision to drop plans for an experimental traffic regulation order to restrict motor vehicles on Ramsden Road for 18 months. The plan, agreed with senior managers and councillors, was to allow for repairs to be undertaken and then bed in whilst being protected from vehicles for a short period.
So 7 months on how is the “Equitable Way Forward” getting on? Well it’s looking rather potholed as you can see from the photos. Despite the dry summer of 2018 and the equally dry winter that followed Ramsden Road continues to deteriorate and is particularly bad for pedestrians (traditionally the lowest of the low here in Kirklees). The flat top section of Ramsden Road is pitted with potholes and developing inland lakes despite the unusually dry past 12 months.
Repairs carried out by Kirklees in June 2018 have noticeably suffered from damage by vehicles. Even now in late June there is a large new pool which has developed this year and which walkers now have to deviate around. This damage is caused by legal use of Ramsden Road by vehicles. This sort of thing and this sort of thing for instance. It’s hard to see how the current surface or any future repairs will hold up to this type of usage or to understand why the council have now chosen to ignore the issue.
Of course the council know exactly what the issue is as can be seen from the following correspondence
From: Rob Dalby Sent: 22 August 2018 17:45 To: Cllr Nigel Patrick <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RE: Ramsden Road – Experimental TRO
Dear Cllr Patrick,
I do take this seriously, and this is not a decision taken lightly. You raised the decision process previously and as you may recall I CC’d in the portfolio holder Cllr Mather, I subsequently discussed the matter with her and she advised this was an operational decision, and as such rested with officers.
These actions are to address some long term issues that I have inherited, and have been in response to a s.56 notice . The upper section has been repaired, but as I have previously advised the lower section with the significant degradation that is the result of both damage caused by recreational off road vehicles such as land rovers and that damage being exacerbated by the water ingress and action within the non sealed surface and damaged substrates, is beyond an easy remedial fix, and will require significant intervention.
I do fully appreciate your points raised previously that relatively small scale actions to maintain the route earlier would have forestalled the need for this more drastic and on the face of it draconian response, but given the present condition of the route, the way forward of putting in place an experimental – and so by its nature time limited restriction of use, and then comparing that against another route of similar character that does have the earlier water management intervention possibly opens up more routes longer term, as it will demonstrate the cost benefit of those works.
This was gone into following talks with the national park, and how they are looking to address similar issues, and it is my intention to meet with and discuss the various merits and objections with as many groups as possible once we have all the interventions in place.
From: Rob Dalby Sent: 19 July 2018 11:25 To: Cllr Nigel Patrick; Cc: Elizabeth Twitchett; Jacqui Gedman; Cllr Donald Firth; Cllr Kenneth Sims; Cllr Naheed Mather; Karl Battersby Subject: RE: Ramsden Road, Holmbridge Attachments: RE: Meeting with Rob Dalby and Will Acornley – More suggested dates and times Dear Cllr Patrick,
I do appreciate your viewpoint, and this was why I understood after the conversation with yourself and your ward colleagues ( notes sent afterwards attached) that the experimental notice would be put in place and that we would then identify similar routes that could have drainage work undertaken to see if this would preserve the surface. The reason it is a time limited notice is that the matter can be subject to some rigour to come up with a longer term solution to allow sustainable access to our routes.
You have mentioned enforcement, but the issue at Ramsden road specifically is that the route is not being used illegally, there is a legal right for 4×4 usage, but it is that very allowed usage that has certainly contributed and exacerbated any issues with surface degradation. The issue of illegal use would be more in the realm of the Police if the driving was dangerous.
This issue was discussed with the previous portfolio holders but I have including the present portfolio lead Cllr Mather so that she can if she wishes comment on this.
It’s plain to see that any repairs are vulnerable to damage by legal vehicular use and that the council know this is the case. Why then would they permit any future works to go ahead without mitigating this risk?
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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 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.
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.