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.
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.
There’s been a noticeable increase in vehicular traffic on Ramsden Road over the past few weeks and the attendant surface damage is noticeable. Vehicles are now leaving the hard surface of Ramsden Road to create deep ruts on the adjacent verges. More often than not these verges are the only dry, even surface for walkers.
This type of use and style of driving is clearly unsustainable,costly and anti social. How will Kirklees Council’s proposed repairs in Spring 2020 stand up to this abuse?
Any reputable Highway Authority would survey use prior to spending public money on such a sensitive project. As it is Kirklees have no idea how many vehicles use Ramsden Road, what time of year is busy/quite or direction of travel for instance, which is particularly relevant with regards to vehicles on the hill section. They therefore cannot come to any defensible position on using a Traffic Regulation Order to mitigate the damage being done nor any understanding of an appropriate solution. They have no data on usage by walkers,cyclists or riders and no idea what the main traffic or usage of the road is. Essential information for any successful scheme.
Whilst it isn’t too late to do things properly it’s getting close.
Kirklees plan to repair and reinstate drainage on the flat top section of Ramsden Road in Spring 2020. The Council will meet the full costs from public funds. Money which only a year ago they claimed not to have. In their words “The Council is using public funds to bring back to a condition suitable for its legitimate use by the public a damaged public right of way” . Not so long ago of course the very same managers were expressing the view that “legitimate vehicle use is causing damage to Ramsden Road” and that “Repair works need to bed in…this is why an Experimental Traffic Regulation order is required”
Whilst is is good news a long section of Ramsden Road is to be repaired it remains a concern that both public money and the repairs are not to be protected by use of a temporary closure order restricting motor vehicles.
Proposed works –
Ramsden Road – Holmfirth Public Byway Open to All Traffic No 90:
Outline works proposal:
Dig drainage ditch out on south side of Ramsden road and broadcast adjacent to works, surplus materials will be transported to quarry and landscaped in approved location.
Open up existing culverts and where possible clean or repair – allocated a maximum of 4, 300mm x 6m twin wall pipes for this works.
Regrade ground level and broadcast to the north of Ramsden road to allow surface water to disperse away and cut new grips where needed.
Geotextile membrane to be installed in the severely damaged areas.
Locally sourced 100/150mm clean sandstone to be laid and compacted in the low areas to bring these areas back up to adjacent ground level.
Locally sourced 40mm to dust sandstone will be laid at a minimum of 100mm to surface the clean sandstone
All items to be compacted in layers using a ride on roller.
This material to be finished slightly chamfered to aid drainage of to extend longevity.
Edges of the area to be redressed using existing topsoil from initial strip and seeded if required.
Any soft areas disturbed off the path line during works to be made good and graded back in with the surrounding area. This to be kept to a minimum wherever possible by restricting turning points and reducing work being carried out during wet weather.
Assume that no excavated materials will be removed from site. All materials excavated during the works will be reused within the works area.
A number of readers got in touch following our recent Tyne,Dogger,Fisher,German Bite,Er…Ramsden Road. report to ask the name of the “listing wreck” shown beached by the Ramsden Road “sea”. PathWatch can reveal that this vessel is not in fact a nautical wreck but more of a bureaucratic wreck of the Cock Up Funded By You variety.
It is of course the final resting place of the gate put in by Kirklees Council to stop motor vehicles accessing and damaging Ramsden Road. The gate cost £2,500 of taxpayers money. It was used for 3 days. The gate was there to enforce the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order which cost another £6,000 . The Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was withdrawn which cost a further £300 etc etc. Bit like the old lady that swallowed a fly? It just goes on and on without end and all at public expense.
The flat 2,000 metre section of Ramsden Road which was always the best bit in terms of condition is now cratered and full of water throughout its length due to vehicle damage. This has happened over the past 12 months and will require far more work and expense than would have been required had the gate been locked and left in place for 18 months as planned and paid for by…well…you get the picture.
The publicly funded repairs of Summer 2018 are shot to pieces by 4×4 usage. This work and tax payers money would have been protected by the gate and Experimental Traffic Regulation Order. But it now all needs fixing again.
Kirklees may be on the brink of funding £16,500 worth of repairs with public money to this flat top section of Ramsden Road and permitting continued vehicular use. This is despite council managers views that 4×4 usage of the lane is contributing to it’s damage and that any works need protecting from 4×4’s for a period of time. That time span was a minimum of 18 months as laid out in the 2018 Experimental Traffic Regulation Order.
PathWatch has asked the council for clarification regarding any financial contribution towards Ramsden Road and the apparent contradiction with it’s long held position that a TRO is needed to protect the route from 4×4’s. Friends of Ramsden Road who have submitted the costed proposals to Kirklees recorded that “Kirklees appears to be prepared to take on the cost of the work and has said that FoRR can contribute with matched volunteer hours and should also seek to involve local businesses to contribute materials etc.
If this is correct Kirklees would appear to be putting substantial amounts of public money at risk by funding works that will be vulnerable to vehicular damage and that they know may well fail. Why would any public authority behave in this manner?
Finally the two grand gate has now been removed from its hinges and laid in the grass. It must of been a hazard to passing shipping after all.
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.
The Kirklees admiralty who are based at Wilton Park, Batley, (home to the Kirklees navy) have announced that a new Shipping Forecast Area is to be added to to the famous list in …er…Kirklees! Rear Admiral Birdseye (oh yes),one of Soothills most famous sons, told PathWatch of the exciting nautical development. “Following the loss of Whitby Fishermen the other winter on Ramsden Road it has been recognised that we need to alert seafarers to the risks of Kirklees and it’s treacherous rights of way waters”.
“The Admiralty have belatedly recognised that although Ramsden Road isn’t actually the sea, the body of water on Ramsden Road is navigable and is of such a size that the moon exerts a significant tidal pull. Spring tides here are some of the largest in UK waters due to landrovers causing further tidal movement when driving through. It’s clear to the Admiralty that the waters on Ramsden Road are a permanent and growing feature which is why we’ve squeezed it in the forecast between German Bite and Dogger” said the Admiral before heading off to Batley Working Mens Club for his rum ration.
The latest Peak District Green Lane Association PDGLA Newsletter 2019_10 reports on the new Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting motor vehicles from Wetton Hills. The newsletter provides a link to background information and committee reports at the Peak Park.
In common with Derbyshire CC at Jacob’s Ladder the Peak Park have followed due process and all the information is in the public realm. This is in stark contrast to our local highway authority, Kirklees, who cannot reference a date or any documentation to their decision to revoke the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order on Ramsden Road. The implications of this unrecorded decision would appear to go against the council’s own view that an ETRO was needed to protect Ramsden Road from damage by 4×4 vehicles and to protect any repairs from damage whilst they bedded in.
Wetton Hills currently has a temporary closure in place for these very reasons which suggests Kirklees original plan was on the money.