The works to Ramsden Road have got off to a good start. Really pleased to see a 1000m or so of reinstated drain on the moorland side of the road. Also about 8 reinstated culverts to connect this into adjacent land drains so water can get away. This will make such a difference. Excess soil from the ditching is being very carefully placed in the old parish quarry which will also improve this area.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has directly intervened in the long running Ramsden Road fiasco. Previously on PathWatch we reported that the planned Ramsden Road works had been delayed as a consequence of Covid 19 and furloughing of the councils chosen contractors. However the Prime Ministers widely derided speech of 10th May urging the great British Worker to get off his or her backside and back to work seems to have done the trick. Contractors are now on site working on Ramsden Road 🙂
The Councils planned repairs to the top section of Ramsden Road which were due to be undertaken in April/May 2020 are now delayed due to furloughing of the chosen contractors.
This marks yet another twist in the authorities complete inability to repair and maintain this popular public highway. The Council has known about the state of Ramsden Road for over 20 years and successfully managed to ignore it throughout that time.
PathWatch first became involved in trying to get something done in 2017. I met the Greenspace Manager from Kirklees on site in December 2017. He was very clear that 4×4 vehicles were causing the extensive damage and that they “must” be taken off the lane prior to the council undertaking repairs. To that end the Greenspace Manager commissioned an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order which would ban motor vehicles from the route for 18 months. During that time period the council would survey,repair and monitor the site prior to taking off the restrictions, if appropriate.
The legal order cost £6k. The works on site to physically close the route in November 2018 cost £2.5K. Unfortunately the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was full of errors and unenforceable. Any reputable public authority would have corrected the errors and continued but Kirklees abandoned the process. They say the decision to abandon the ETRO process was a delegated officer decision. Yet they have no record of this decision.It appears to have been made outside the Councils constitution and the legal requirements councils are obliged to operate within. This has led us all around the houses to where we are now ie continued and expensive vehicular damage to Ramsden Road, a postponed scheme to repair the top section and no plan at all to repair the hazardous downhill section.
Had the Council done its job properly Ramsden Road would have been closed to motor traffic for 18 months from December 2018. In that time the council would have repaired the entire route which would now be due to reopen to all traffic in just a few weeks time.
However we are stuck in the Kirklees Komedy Klub with few laughs and no end in sight to the tedious chuckle broteresque escapades.
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.
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.
Here is a recent video posted on youtube that perhaps gives a clue as to how Ramsden Road has been wrecked
It’s easy to see how those large lakes have formed so quickly (in 18 months) on the flat section when you watch how these vehicles drive through them. Kirklees Council will be spending a significant sum of taxpayers cash (they won’t tell PathWatch how much) to “repair” these potholes in April.
How deep does Kirklees have it’s corporate neck buried in the sand? Does it really believe that simply placing and rolling in sandstone will stand up to the kind of use shown in this video?
And lets remember here the councils recently declared aim to increase walking by 20% and to ensure Kirklees is a great place to walk in. Both pledges made in the very recent Climate Emergency Plan. Ramsden Road could lead the way here if only the council meant what it says.
The route could be motor traffic free,repaired and maintained to a bridleway standard and the surrounding damaged land given a chance to recover. Instead the council is enabling 4×4’s to continue the destruction of the one part of our environment it directly controls.
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.