Defra’s omissions

CampaignerKate

Environment ministers have a habit of making speeches just before the summer holidays.  I wrote yesterday of David Trippier’s disastrous announcement on common land 30 years ago.  Last year Michael Gove spoke to us from the hothouse at Kew, in his final days as environment secretary—and failed to mention public access, a significant part of Defra’s remit.  Last week his successor George Eustice similarly made his heading-for-holidays speech, again without mentioning public access.

You would have thought that with the summer break about to start they might have been thinking about recreation.

HomewardboundnearLaneHead,Horndon,MaryTavy Riders near Lane End on Dartmoor

George Eustice did announce that Defra would be ‘investing £4m in a two-year pilot to bring green prescribing to four urban and rural areas that have been hit the hardest by coronavirus’, which presumably has an access element—but this is too little too late.

IMG_6440 Walkers near Otley in west Yorkshire

Green prescribing has…

View original post 263 more words

A helpful act for paths

30 years on from the “Rights of Way” Act 1990 but here in Kirklees they haven’t heard of it!

CampaignerKate

In November 1987, the late Brett Collier, the Lincolnshire Ramblers’ path-champion, led the Conservative MP for Gainsborough and Horncastle, Edward Leigh, on a walk across local farmland.  Edward saw at first hand the constant issues which walkers and riders in the county faced: ploughed and deeply-rutted paths across large fields, unrestored and unmarked.  At another time of year he would have had to negotiate impenetrable crops.

This outing was a wise move on Brett’s part.  Three years later Edward came fifth in the ballot for private member’s bills.  Remembering his walk he turned to the Ramblers for advice on the bill he might introduce.

Draft bill
Coincidentally, the Ramblers had been working with other organisations on legislation to strengthen the law against ploughing and cropping of paths and were able to hand him a draft bill.  He introduced this into parliament—and the result was the Rights of Way Act, which…

View original post 1,073 more words

Ramsden Road. What’s Not Been Done 2

Following on from Ramsden Road. What’s Not Been Done. The following photos show the current state of Ramsden Road  where it has been repaired & drained at a cost of £15k. Even after a modest amount of rain it clearly isn’t working. There is also damage by motorbikes to the new surface and fly tipping. Good money is being thrown after bad here and it is painful to watch.

Ramsden Rd June 20
Reopened culvert  with nowhere for the water to drain to. This could damage the wall and will surcharge back onto ramsden Road in wetter conditions.
Ramsden Rd June 20-4
Water running off Ramsden Road & eroding back the road edges. The culverts should have been retained with stone. The road levels here are low and the cause of this issue.Imagine a land rover driving on this edge.
Ramsden Rd June 20-2
A reopened culvert which discharges onto the adjacent drystone wall. The wall footings have been undercut in the recent works. Water accumulating here could undermine the wall over time and it will surcharge back onto Ramsden Road as it has nowhere else to go.
Ramsden Rd June 20-5
One of a number of basic grips cut into the verge of Ramsden Road (which was the best bit for pedestrians to walk on! ). Even after a very modest amount of rain water  accumulates at the base of adjacent dry stone wall. In wetter conditions the water will just back up onto Ramsden Road.
Ramsden Rd June 20-7
Another very basic grip. In 30 years I’ve never seen water accumulate at this point. Again it will surcharge back down Ramsden Road in wetter conditions.
Ramsden Rd June 20-9
Another reopened culvert but with nowhere for the water to get away.
Ramsden Rd June 20-6
Group of 8 motor bikes traveling at speed on Ramsden Road.
Ramsden Rd June 20-8
Damage by motor bikes to the new surface which has only been in place for 2 weeks. What will it be like after the winter?
Rams Rd-2
More motor bike damage. Where are pedestrians supposed to walk here?
Rams Rd
The yellow sandstone in the foreground here is the last remaining bit of the 2018 repairs. The grey stone beyond was put down just a couple of weeks ago and the potholing pattern caused by vehicles is already obvious.
Ramsden Road Flttipping 3_6_20
A very neat pile of fly tipping just inside the Peak District National Park section of Ramsden Road.
Ramsden Rd June 20-11
Same fly tipping 4 days later after a few 4×4 enthusiasts have driven through it.
Screenshot (13)
More rain is forecast over the next few days. Maybe it will wash the fly tipping away?

Ramsden Road Repairs Off To Good Start.

R road wks
1000m or so of reopened drainage.

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.

Great stuff 🙂

R road wks-2
One of the reinstated culverts.

Latest Defra Advice On Rights Of Way & Covid 19

Elec Fence sign

Don’t take advice from the pitch fork brigade. This is the latest government position and advice to its stakeholders.There are no path closures in England.

Defra message to stakeholders on Covid-19 020420

Public Rights of Way and Covid-19

The government’s priority is to save lives and the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay at home.

However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so the government has said people can leave their homes for exercise once a day.

NFU and CLA have told us that some landowners are still concerned about increased use of public rights of way on their property increasing the risk to livestock, such as instances of gates being left open and dogs not being controlled.

To help address this we will publish a supplementary video on social media in advance of this weekend, reminding people to follow the Countryside Code. This will be published on Twitter @DefraGovUK and Defra’s Facebook page. We encourage you to share this with your members and networks.

Finally, further concerns have been raised by stakeholders that the use of public rights of way that run through gardens, farmyards and schools is increasing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus to residents and farm workers.

The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.

Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:

  • Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
  • Temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools.

Note: this is a polite request only, and there is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained.

Key points to Note under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW)

  • Under Section 39 of CROW it is an offence to fail to comply with an order of the Magistrate’s Court to remove an obstruction. So a landowner must not obstruct any right of way.
  • It is an offence under section 14 of CROW to display a notice that contains “any false or misleading information likely to deter the public from exercising” a right of way.
  • Land owners may be liable for personal injury under section 13 (6C) of CROW if they are reckless or intend to create a risk – for example by offering a dangerous alternative.

This means that

  • If a land owner offers an alternative route, they must ensure that it is safe to use and that the existing right of way is maintained so that users with differing abilities have a choice.
  • A notice must not imply that there is any doubt about the use of the existing right of way.

These temporary measures must be lifted as soon as social distancing measures are relaxed.

Wording for Signs

Defra also produced suggested wording for signs requesting the public to use an alternative path as follows:

Public right of way Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This path passes through a private garden/working farmyard/working stables.

An alternative and safe permitted path is available to maintain social distancing and protect residents and local communities.

If you wish to use the alternative route please follow the way markers along this temporary route.

In line with Defra and Public Health England advice:

Maintain social distancing requirements –

Ensure you keep at least 2 metres away from other people

Hand wash/sanitise after touching any shared surfaces, e.g. stiles/gates.

Keep dogs on a lead around livestock and away from other people/dogs.

Leave gates as you find them.

For paths with no possible alternative:

Public right of way Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This path crosses through farmland & close to local people’s homes and their families.

In line with Defra and Public Health England Advice:

Maintain social distancing requirements –

Ensure you keep at least 2 metres away from other people.

Hand wash/sanitise after touching any shared surfaces e.g. stiles/gates.

Keep dogs on a lead near livestock and away from other people/dogs

Walking Locally During Lockdown

91105177_209729207003249_4111715528404369408_n

The hysteria surrounding walking paths as a form of exercise during the current public lockdown has reached Holmfirth footpaths.  For clarity have a read of this link on the new law  bringing in the restrictions. You can walk public paths. There are no restrictions on driving a mile or two to do so. The police and all front line services have a difficult balancing act but it is   reported here  that they are now taking a more pragmatic approach to this issue and the drones have been grounded for now. West Yorkshire Police are reportedly not issuing warning letters for parked cars in walking areas locally. This LBQC   from St. John’s Chambers is also worth reading. Time to put the pitchforks away and be sensible.

Any signs such as the one above or obstructions should be reported to Kirklees in the usual manner here highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk

Kirklees Launches New Standard For Structures On Paths ! “Not To Standard But Acceptable” :-)

 

 

cropped-stile3-1-of-1.jpg
Not To Standard But Acceptable ? Who Decides?

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 ?

 

Holmfirth Footpath 165.New Sign & Significant Haircut.

Hol 165 Hedges
Before. December 2019.
PROW (2) (1) (480x640)
After. January 2020 (Kirklees photo)

PathWatch is pleased to report that Holmfirth Footpath 165 has had a significant short back and sides to the laurel hedges which just about met in the middle. A new footpath sign has been installed and surface vegetation cut back too.

Thank you to Kirklees staff for this.

Screenshot_2020-01-31-13-06-19
Holmfirth Footpath 165. Now usable.
PROW (480x640)
New sign. (Kirklees photo)