The unmistakable Spring chorus of a two stroke engine breaks the evening silence to echo far across the Pennine hills. This lone male is searching the Yorkshire moors for a potential mate. He will ride hundreds of miles of public rights of way to show off his flamboyant courtship display to any female he comes across in his lonely quest for a potential partner.
Around the corner the less common over revving screech of an urban quad bike can be heard. Complete with tracksuited male rider and terrified but giggling female pillion. This is a typical but rarely observed courtship routine. The quads intricate movements around the abandoned quarries rocks and murky pools are the males way of both impressing the hapless female passenger and showing her his suitability as a mate.
These unique natural phenomenon are now protected in perpetuity by Kirklees Councils complete inability to put a Traffic Regulation Order on the rare habitat of Ramsden Road.
Now all the rambling fuss has died down and Easter is behind us Kirklees Council has updated its website. It’s belated take on Defra’s Covid 19 rights of way advice for the public and landowners can be read here
The 2020 January weather wasn’t kind to Holmfirth paths. Although a little late to the party another casualty of the unusually wet winter storms is Holmfirth Footpath 57 at Netherthong.
After many years of hassling Kirklees they resurfaced this path in June 2019. It has now all been washed away. At some point PathWatch will pull together a piece on recent Kirklees works to stone up out of repair paths in the Holme Valley and what has subsequently happened to them. It’s not pretty.
PathWatch recently reported on the removal of a long running double step stile problem on this lovely little path. Following on from this a very wobbly section of old fence and stile has now been removed and replaced with a gate (shown above). Thanks to all involved 🙂
The humble traffic regulation order in action on a byway in the Dales. The photos above were taken on The High Way in the Parish of High Abbotside where the way splits into two. Byway 20.93/2 heads south back into the valley whilst Byway 20.93/1 stays high and heads south east. It doesn’t take a genius to work out which one has a Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting motor vehicles and which one doesn’t.
It’s also a unique example of two byways next to each other. One clearly showing the positive effect of a TRO and the other exhibiting the obvious negative effects of damage caused to the route by vehicles.
Of course here in Kirklees it is completely different. Motor vehicles do not damage byways (less gravity here? Ed) and the Council are happy to pump in public cash to repair byways not damaged by vehicles and there’s no need for a TRO because well vehicles don’t…
There’s long experience in the Dales of the National Park putting TRO’s on these byways BEFORE repairing them and keeping the TRO in place to protect the surface from future vehicle damage. The added bonus to this approach is safe,unspoilt off road routes for non motorised users.
Some breaking news from PathWatch. The double double stile step problem on Holmfirth Footpath 131 has finally been resolved!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ?