A public inquiry is to be held next week into the soup of claims and stopping ups on the paths at Clayton Fields,Edgerton,Huddersfield. A flavour of this particular disaster can be read in Clayton Fields – Peak Parody? There have been further developments since that article but even PathWatch lost track (got bored?Ed) of the councils tortuous efforts to deny public access to a popular urban greenspace and build houses on it instead.
If you are having trouble sleeping the Inquiry starts at 10.00am on 21st January 2020 at Brian Jackson House,New North Parade,Huddersfield. HD1 5JP.
After a quiet period chart wise the path became a Christmas no.1 for 2019 and hits the new year at the top of the charts. As you can see from the photos the public path has been obliterated by works associated with a nearby development. The legal line of the path has gone and so to the proposed diversion (new path) approved by kirklees as a splendid idea at committee in July 2019.
This could be top of the path pickers charts for months to come…. Whatever you do don’t try to walk it.
One of the small jobs done by Kirklees as a result of input from Councillor Paul Davies was the clearance of long standing vegetation from a flight of steps on Holmfirth Footpath 85. As you can see from the final photo in this piece the steps were so overgrown you’d hardly know a public footpath existed. This type of long term neglect is typical in the Holme Valley.
The steps need some TLC themselves now that they are back with us. As you can see from the photo above there is a longstanding drainage issue at the bottom of the steps completely obstructing further passage. This still needs addressing a year after making the Highway Authority aware.
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 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.
In a generous autumn give away Kockuplees Council are throwing the troublesome but widely recognised and essential British Standard 5709 out the window and will allow any old thing to be placed on local public rights of way.
“So what’s new” said Benny Rothmans, stalwart member of Peak & Southern Footpaths Society “You’ve got to be a contestant on Who Dares Wins to get over most of the stiles & gates around here and up to date with your tetanus.”
We put this point to Les Battersby, the Councils Strategic Director of Not Giving A Toss. Les told us more about the controversial offer “Mr Rothmans certainly has a point and it is true to say that we have turned something of a blind eye to the awful mess of stiles & gates on our public footpaths since the relevant date of the year dot.However we’ve decided to be more honest and stop pretending we’re remotely interested in Rambers or anyone else who might like to enjoy a walk in the fresh air. The thing is we really don’t care. Any farmer who we have inadvertently forced to use BS5709 can contact us and will receive a very generous compensation package. This includes council staff removing the quality BS5709 gate and putting in any old crap, preferably with some barbed wire and a good wobble. We are able to offer ramblers over the age of 96 a reduced price tetanus injection with our medical partner BURPA for a small BURPA subscription of £300 a month (terms & conditions apply). I think Mr Rothmans may be eligible at 102.”
Back in the “real world” of Kirklees rights of way the council is currently running a dual system for use of BS5709 on our public paths. In some cases where the council has required removal of an obstruction the landowner is required to put in place a gate to the recognised British Standard 5709 . The process involves the usual form filling and checks by Kirklees staff. The standard is compliant with the councils Disability Discrimination Act obligations and allows the council to put conditions on such as clear signage and removal of the gate if no longer needed. In other cases landowners can put in anything they want and Kirklees isn’t bothered. The Council are unable to provide a rational explanation for this particular double standard.
Whilst it is a very poor deal for path users to be subject to sub standard and unauthorised structures which the council has no control over, it also seems unfair to landowners and farmers. There seems to be something of a BS5709 lottery here in the Holme Valley with landowners in identical situations being treated very differently.