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Having evaded questions via a freedom of information act request relating to the costs of a flawed legal order on Ramsden Road Kirklees have now released some further information as a result of an appeal. The letter containing these costs is at the end of this piece. It reveals legal costs of over  £1,000 in addition to the costs of work on site of £2,300 odd pounds.

This is public money wasted. Kirklees legal services  processed the order incorrectly resulting in it’s failure. The service was paid £1000 for this work.

The Council have had to go to court to revoke the order and presumably have paid their own legal services again to do this? As this is a further cost to the public purse PathWatch will be asking.

It seems the Kirklees Cock Up Budget is a bottomless pit of public money.

Dear Sir / Madam

Re: Freedom of Information Request Reference 18831

I have reviewed the Council’s response to your request for information under reference 18831.  In conducting this review I have had regard to relevant guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s office.  I was not involved in the Council’s initial response to your request.

Background

You have made a request for information on the 18th December 2018. You asked for the following information: 

Please can you advise me of the costs the council has incurred in making this experimental traffic regulation order? This should include the costs of the bureaucratic process and the works on site to physically stop up the highway to motor vehicles. 

The order was advertised as being in force for 18 months. After only a few days the gates on site were unlocked and the council advised it was not enforcing the ETRO. Please can you provide a reason/s for this course of action? Please provide documentation you hold relating to this decision.  

The Council responded to your request on the 17th January 2019. Their response was as follows:

 

Please can you advise me of the costs the council has incurred in making this experimental traffic regulation order?

 

We do not hold a figure of the costs, the Council has incurred in making this experimental traffic regulation order.

 

This should include the costs of the bureaucratic process and the works on site to physically stop up the highway to motor vehicles.

 

The cost of the works on site to physically stop up the highway to motor vehicles is £2328 excluding VAT.

 

The order was advertised as being in force for 18 months. After only a few days the gates on site were unlocked and the council advised it was not enforcing the ETRO. Please can you provide a reason/s for this course of action? 

 

The order was subject to a technical fault so is being revoked due to this.

 

Please provide documentation you hold relating to this decision. 

 

The Council does not hold any documentation. This decision was based on a visual assessment of the road and discussion with colleagues and the Peak Park on the most equitable way forward.

 

By email of the 17th January 2019 you asked for an internal review of the Council’s response in respect of the costs, suggesting that you believed the response provided was incorrect. You also sought clarification of the technical fault that the response referred to.

Review 

I have reviewed the relevant documents and have made some further enquiries into the costs and the reasons for the technical fault. I note that you were provided with the costs of the physical work, which was £2328 plus any VAT which might have been payable, but were querying the administrative costs, having been advised that there was no record held of those.

 

The administrative work in respect of an ETRO is handled by the Council’s legal department and, following my request, they calculated, from their file, the cost of the legal work involved. This was £727.61, with an additional £288.00 plus VAT in respect of advertising costs.

 

It would appear that the total cost of the order would be £3343.61, plus any VAT that would be payable.

 

At the time your request was responded to, no enquiries had been made of Legal Services to ascertain their costs. I am satisfied that it could have been provided had the appropriate department been contacted.

 

With regards to the second part of your review request, I have been advised that the nature of the technical fault was due to a failure to consult, which is a mandatory requirement for the order that was sought. The ETRO was revoked on the 25th of January and the revocation order has been published and is in the public domain. I attach a copy of the wording of the revocation order and I trust this will provide the information that you were seeking.

 

Your original request also asked for any documentation that related to the decision to revoke the order and you were advised that there was no documentation held. I have made some enquiries and have been advised, by Legal Services, that there are emails that relate to the decision to revoke. As these contain legal advice, I would expect that they would not be disclosed on the basis of their legal privilege. However, should your request not be satisfied by the wording of the revocation notice, the matter can be referred back to the FOI team who will review the correspondence and make a decision as to whether they can be disclosed.

 

In respect of the costings, your review is upheld. At the time of the response, no calculation of the legal costs had been made, but I am satisfied that the information was held and could have been provided simply had the correct enquiries been made. Whilst the information may not have been in a ‘document’ format, it was held on the case management system and could have been produced.

 

With regards to the revocation of the order, you were provided with a response as to the reasons for the revocation. I accept that these were not as detailed as they may have been and the reasons were reflected in the subsequent revocation order. You were also advised that no documentation concerning the decision to revoke the notice was available, which is not correct. In respect of the revocation of the order your review is upheld.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of this review you have the right under section 50 of the 2000 Act to apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision as to whether your request for information has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Act.  The Information Commissioner’s website is at www.ico.org.uk and gives more information about the role and duties of the Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AS.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

David Stickley

Senior Legal Officer

for Service Director – Legal, Governance and Commissioning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KIRKLEES COUNCIL

(TRAFFIC REGULATION) (No. 2) (REVOCATION) ORDER 2019

 

RAMSDEN ROAD

HOLME VALLEY

 

STATEMENT OF REASONS

 

Notwithstanding the nature and character of the route, regulation 6 of the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996 requires in all cases consultation with The Freight Transport Association and The Road Haulage Association. This is a mandatory requirement.  No such consultation was undertaken. Following a legal challenge on this basis, and in the knowledge of the decision in  case of Trail Riders Fellowship v Wiltshire County Council (2018) EWHC 3600 (Admin)  on 9th January 2019, the Council has decided to revoke the Kirklees Council (Ramsden Road Holme Valley) (Experimental) Order No. 9 of 2018

 

Ramsden Road In Pictures

The winter so far has been well below average in terms of rainfall and follows on from an extended drought in 2018. However the byway continues to deteriorate  with work carried out last summer already damaged by vehicles.

Repairing and maintaining Ramsden Road for all traffic (including motor vehicles) is now Kirklees Council’s and local ward councillors preferred option. It will be interesting to see what they come up with and how long it lasts. In the meantime webbed feet are an advantage.

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The fencing recently erected by Kirklees presents a new hazard for pedestrians trying to keep dry feet or dodging a vehicle.
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This area was resurfaced in June 2018. Large potholes have already developed. The flat top of the lane is about a 1000m long and should provide disabled access to the wonderful view and seat at the edge of the escarpment.
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June 2018 for comparison. Most of that stone has now gone. Clearly on the flat area of Ramsden Road due to vehicular use this technique (much used by local authorities) is not an answer.
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The beginnings of vehicular damage to an area repaired in 2018.
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Another evolving pothole. Note the materials splashed out to each side by vehicles.
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A continuous line of potholes consistent with vehicular damage.
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Large new potholes evolving close to the repaired section where the damage had reached a depth of 1.4 metres.
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More obvious vehicular damage.

 

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The original stone macadam surface can be seen to the left. Not much remains but only 10 years ago this area was intact. The skills to construct such a surface have disappeared.
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The depth of damage here is almost a metre below the original crown of the road surface.
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The defining image of Ramsden Road.
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Recent cold weather reveals the amount of water coming down Ramsden Road even in dry conditions.
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10 years ago this was a working cattle grid.
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Freezing conditions show the problem.
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The bad step

 

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The bad step 2

Ramsden Road TRO or not TRO?

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Another festive cock up from our muddled local highway authority. Those little elves in Civic 3 are working overtime on the Christmas Cracker Cock up Generator. Who needs naff jokes in crackers when real life is so entertaining?

Kirklees has (or hasn’t) placed an experimental traffic regulation order on the worn out Ramsden Road in a bid to temporarily stop use by motor vehicles whilst repairs were considered and then undertaken.

These orders cost the council in the region of £6,000. In addition practical works on site to install locked gates,bollards and fencing closing off the route may well cost the same again.

The TRO on Ramsden Road came into effect recently. The gates were locked. Bollards put up. Fencing erected – all at public cost. The order was advertised as being enforced for 18 months. In fact it was barely a week until the gates were unlocked and Kirklees decided it was not “enforcing” the order. It seems it’s not just  Huddersfield Byway 231 the council can’t make it’s mind up about.

The trouble with making it up as you go along is it starts to get a bit pricey and people think you don’t really know what you are doing.

 

Ramsden Road Repairs & Other Footpath News.

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Repairs to the top section of Ramsden Road are complete. The lane has never looked so good! All the deep potholes and the infamous lake have been filled in and the surface is now much more user friendly.

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Lets hope the council will now maintain the lane to at least this standard.

In other news footpath signs have also gone up or been replaced on Holmfirth Footpaths 44,83,85 and 128 and an obstructing fence/vegetation cleared from Holmfirth Footpath 130. Obstructions on Kirkburton Footpath 155 and Denby Dale Footpath 82 have also been removed by the council. I can also report that the problems on Holmfirth 146 have been rectified which is extremely good news and hopefully  a good quality diversion benefiting both walkers and the landowner can now go ahead.

Thanks are due to Kirklees staff for their work in resolving these problems.

 

 

Ramsden Road Repairs

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Pleased to report that Kirklees have begun to repair the worst of the large “potholes” up on Ramsden Road. This includes the infamous  large inland lake where many a walker has come a cropper.

The works were agreed in April and have started on time. This is a really positive development. Along with the flurry of new footpath signs and a number of other resolved problems(which will be reported on the blog) it is very good news indeed.

Many thanks to the council staff and contractors involved in arranging and carrying out these works.

Ramsden Road

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More of a rock climb than a walk

Where to begin on this one? Let’s start with what it is. A byway open to all traffic (Holmfirth 180). This means walkers,riders,cyclists and motor vehicles have a right to pass along here. Might be worth mentioning who is responsible for the maintenance of Ramsden Road too. Well as it is recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement it is publicly maintainable by the local Highway Authority which is Kirklees Council. I can hear your groans and cries of despair dear reader but I’m just telling it like it is.

Clearly the surface of the byway is very much out of repair and hasn’t seen any maintenance of any kind for a long time,if ever. How has it got into this state? Well it would be very easy to blame 4×4 users who the byway is very popular with but I don’t think that would be fair. As a walker I’ve walked on many badly eroded footpaths where the damage has been caused by boots alone. So I’m not going to chuck the first stone of blame in the direction.

Many years ago before Ramsden Road was in this dire state but had the beginnings of these problems  there was a popular suggestion  to put a traffic regulation order on the byway which would have either stopped motor vehicle use or limited it at certain times of year. Sadly the idea was shot down in flames by local councillors who would hear none of it. The rest as they say is history and we are now left with this assault course of a byway.

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No not the famous Holmfirth Lido

It is still up to Kirklees to manage the traffic on Ramsden Road and keep the byway safe and in a condition suitable for it’s expected traffic which on the face of it doesn’t seem too challenging. However it is obvious from the neglected drains,culverts and extensive damage that the byway has been left to deteriorate and the public can take their chances when walking there.

What can be done? Path Watch has asked Kirklees to carry out some urgent emergency repairs to the worst affected sections of standing water and erosion. In the short term all that means is importing some local stone to put the surface back into a safe condition. They can then have a think about what to do in the longer term.

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Neglected cross drain

The byway has a good drainage system of ditches,culverts and cut offs which require reinstatement and of course the surface needs extensive repairs. This could be carried out over a period of time and need not break the bank.  What ever excuses come from Kirklees there is no getting away from 1. They are responsible and 2. lack of resources is no defense. Putting corporate fingers in their ears and singing LA LA LA loudly just won’t cut it.

Reports about  condition of Ramsden Road ,Holmfirth Byway 180 should be made to highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk

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