Holmfirth Footpath 131 Double Step Stile Problem Sorted!

Hol 131 Stile removed 8_3_20
Holmfirth 131 Still a weird set up but passable. 

Some breaking news from PathWatch. The double double stile step problem on Holmfirth Footpath 131 has finally been resolved!

Stile (1 of 1)
Before

Whilst we’re not ones for fake positivity here a few cartwheels have been spun around PathWatch HQ for the end of this long saga. For 28 months the council has played a tortuous game of Twister with itself  over what was a blindly obvious bit of crap that blocked the path and shouldn’t be there.

Thanks are due for the work of the frontline staff involved.

Thank You.

Screenshot_2020-03-10-10-41-40

 

Holmfirth Footpath 57 New Water Feature Dealt With Quickly!

HOL 57
New Water Feature January 2020

Holmfirth Footpath 57 has featured on PathWatch before here and here . Following service of a s56 notice on Kirklees the route was extensively repaired in 2018. It was then allowed to become badly overgrown in the summer 0f 2019. So much so that the area repaired became invisible and unwalkable within a year of those repairs (subsequently strimmed).

HOL 57 After
Completed Works November 2018. Needs To Green Up
IMG_2904-2
And In June 2019. Perhaps A little Too Green?

As can be seen from the top photo the path has a new problem in the form of a broken culvert beneath the surface flooding the path.

What this all neatly demonstrates is the need for regular inspection and cyclic maintenance of our public rights of way.

It’s good to report that within a few days of the new water feature being reported Kirklees have done some temporary work to drain the immediate problem and a permanent repair to the culvert below is now planned.

Excellent and thank you Kirklees 🙂

Holmfirth 57
Temporary draining

Spend A Penny To save A Pound. Holmfirth Footpath 66 After Storms Ciara & Dennis

Hol 66 Erosion 17_2_20

A good slice of this popular path has been washed away over the past two weekends of heavy rain. But are Ciara and Dennis really responsible?

The network of walled footpaths and bridleways in this area provided access to a number of small farms and settlements prior to the construction of Digley Dam and reservoir. At that time, some 70 odd years ago, all the tenants were evicted by the new landlord – the water board.

Screenshot_2020-02-17-19-20-49

Had the water board, now Yorkshire Water, and possibly Kirklees Council continued to maintain the extensive network of open land drains and culverts which drained the footpaths,bridleways and adjoining land perhaps these routes would be in a better position today? Another example of not spending a penny to save a pound? Certainly another good example of how unconsolidated stone aggregate laid and rolled in on these steep upland paths is not the answer.

Hol 66 Erosion 17_2_20-2

This limestone was thrown down by Yorkshire Water contractors and made a cosmetic difference while masking  as serious underlying drainage issue which was not tackled.

Hol 66 Erosion 17_2_20-3

 

Kirklees Launches New Standard For Structures On Paths ! “Not To Standard But Acceptable” :-)

 

 

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Not To Standard But Acceptable ? Who Decides?

PathWatch can exclusively reveal the all new Kirklees standard for structures on public rights of way! The standard known as Not To Standard But Acceptable (this is not a joke.Ed) has recently been launched on a Holmfirth path.

Most Highway Authorities in the UK use BS5709 which is the British Standard drawn up and agreed by representatives of Natural England, CLA, NFU, OSS, BHS, Disabled Ramblers, IPROW, Highway Authority and a gate designer in a long process involving opportunity for public comment . It has been around for 40 years and was recently updated in 2018. BS5709 allows the widest range of users to access public paths and is compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act. The Kirklees Not To Standard But Acceptable standard appears to be based on…er…keeping certain councillors happy!

Councillor Nigel Patrick has previously expressed his  opinion on BS5709 and his displeasure with officer decisions granting authority for structures (gates) on public paths to BS5709. As recently as 16th November 2019 Councillor Patrick wrote to Karl Battersby ( a strategic director at Kirklees) saying he thought BS5709 was “only advisory and not law” He also said to Mr Battersby on 18th November 2019 that “a complaint that it is not to British Standard is not a complaint that needs to be addressed if it is usable” The whole point of BS5709 is that these structures can be shown to be “usable” because they meet certain accessibility criteria laid out in the standard. The Kirklees Not To Standard But Acceptable standard amounts to nothing more than subjective opinion.

However Mr Battersby has recently agreed to authorise a number of Not To Standard But Acceptable structures on a Holmfirth path following Councillor Patrick’s intervention. In a 13th November 2019 email Mr Battersby advises Councillor Patrick that the council will be contacting a landowner to advise “their structures are not to standard but acceptable.”

This raises a number number of genuine concerns. Firstly this decision has been taken behind closed doors and out of public view.  It shows Kirklees Council ditching a widely recognised British Standard on accessibility in favour of something completely unspecified and unauthorised on a public highway. Who decides what is an acceptable structure on a path? Is this a decision in the public interest? Will the Not To Standard But Acceptable standard be rolled out to all other landowners in Kirklees? Why is a Strategic Director on a £125,000 per annum salary making decisions about gates and water troughs on public footpaths? Is that the best use of public money? The decision would seem to undermine the work of front line council staff and their efforts to keep paths free of unauthorised structures and obstructions.  How does this decision fit with the councils statutory obligations to assert and protect the public’s rights to use public paths and to keep them free of obstructions?

And finally how does the Not To Standard But Acceptable standard fit with Kirklees recently expressed aim to increase walking by 20% and its aspiration to “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 expressed in its recently adopted climate emergency plan ?

 

Holmfirth Footpath 133 At Gate Foot

Hol 133 water damage 10_2_20-3
Holmfirth Footpath 133 After Storm Ciara 

Previously on PathWatch we’ve blogged about works to Holmfirth Footpath 133 being undertaken,washing away within weeks and having to be done again. See  here and here. We’ve questioned the wisdom of using stone aggregate on steep Pennine paths with a history of drainage problems and acknowledged the need and difficulty of using  a more sustainable method.

Sadly Holmfirth Footpath 133 has again failed over the weekend after the passage of Storm Ciara. Most of the stone aggregate is half way down the hill. The drains are blocked and there are deep gullies in the path surface. The path needs extensive repairs for the 3rd time in less than a year.

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Holmfirth Footpath 133

What Holmfirth 133 neatly demonstrates is the extent and seriousness of Kirklees Councils maintenance liability for rights of way, the false economy of using  sandstone on such slopes and the lack of imagination amongst senior managers (to busy authorising “unauthorised” water troughs? Ed) in developing a sustainable maintenance strategy for the rights of way network. As an organisation the Council seem entirely content with making the same mistakes over and over again.

Footpath 133 was a decent job. Great attention had been paid to drainage and the second lot of stone put down was larger and less “clean” than the first, so bound together very well but it still could not handle the weather here.

What Kirklees are proposing to do  on  Ramsden Road  (largely to keep 4×4 drivers happy.Ed) is the same technique used on Footpath 133 (and  others) but with the added ingredient of heavy 4×4 vehicles using the route. The Council know this technique fails sooner or later (without vehicle use) and it also knows legitimate 4×4 use on Ramsden Road damages the unmade surface. It seems more than happy to ignore this information and potentially make a more expensive version of the same mistake on Ramsden Road. Go figure.

Hol 133 water damage 10_2_20-2

Hol 133 water damage 10_2_20-5

Holmfirth Footpath 165.New Sign & Significant Haircut.

Hol 165 Hedges
Before. December 2019.
PROW (2) (1) (480x640)
After. January 2020 (Kirklees photo)

PathWatch is pleased to report that Holmfirth Footpath 165 has had a significant short back and sides to the laurel hedges which just about met in the middle. A new footpath sign has been installed and surface vegetation cut back too.

Thank you to Kirklees staff for this.

Screenshot_2020-01-31-13-06-19
Holmfirth Footpath 165. Now usable.
PROW (480x640)
New sign. (Kirklees photo)