Regular readers will recall PathWatch inquiries via the Freedom of Information Act here into how a Council decision to put an Environmental Traffic Regulation order banning 4×4’s from Ramsden Road was overturned in December 2018. The result of this decision is that any works carried out to repair Ramsden Road will be instantly vulnerable to damage by motor vehicles. The Council identified 4×4 damage as a problem as far back as 2004 and of course spent £10k and all of 2018 securing an ETRO in order to protect proposed works from 4×4 damage. It’s abrupt change of mind never made any sense.
When asked how the decision was made to abandon the ETRO Kirklees stated that “The decision was based on a visual assessment of the road and discussion with colleagues and the Peak Park on the most equitable way forward.” No dates, names, new evidence on the effect of 4×4’s or outline of the process were provided. Presumably whoever wrote that is an up and coming comedian or an expert in evasion?
After an unseemly delay the Council’s Head Of Legal Services has completed a review and in respect of the answer above says –
However, my conclusion is that the council’s response to item 3 in your request – “please also provide information which shows who at Kirklees Council took the decision not to proceed with the ETRO on Ramsden Road and the reason behind this decision:-“ does not fully comply with the requirements of the Act and Regulations. I have therefore decided that this matter should be referred back to the relevant service and that you should be provided with further information as to who took the decision not to proceed with the ETRO and, if the council holds further information on this point, additional information has to be reasoning behind the decision.
I therefore partially uphold your request for a review. I have referred this matter back to the council’s Information Governance Team with a request that they reconsider the matter and that supplementary information (if any) is provided to you as soon as reasonably practicable.
Of course there are a number of caveats as to why the Council may not have to provide this information but we will wait and see. More on this in due course.
As ever with our hapless Council there is a rich irony here. The Head of Legal Services undertook the review and of course it was the errors made by legal services in the drafting of the ETRO which set off this unfortunate chain of events.
Both these Byways are located within the Peak District National Park (in the case of Ramsden Road the section of byway most out of repair & problematic falls within the park boundary) . Both have very similar long standing issues relating to damage by vehicles, water damage and conflict between vehicles and other users. However both byways have different Highway Authorities responsible for them. Ramsden Road has Kirklees Metropolitan Council whilst Jacob’s Ladder has Derbyshire County Council.
The difference in the decision making processes regarding the future of each byway by its respective highway authority is striking.
Officers at Derbyshire County Council have compiled a 19 page report which will be presented to the County’s Highways Committee later this month. The report contains results of an extensive public consultation on the proposals for the byway which involved over 1000 responses. Various Defra policies on byways are referenced along with the councils policy on green lanes and a detailed officer analysis. Financial and legal considerations are explained in detail and there is a list of referenced background papers. There’s much in this report applicable to Kirklees and Ramsden Road and it is well worth a read. Most of what it covers has never been taken into account properly by Kirklees in respect of Ramsden Road.
In contrast there is no transparent decision making process here in Kirklees, no report on Ramsden Road, no traffic survey, no reference to Defra policy, no local policy, no site survey, no consultation and no record of any legitimate decision making process for the council’s current course of action. Kirklees Council as Highway Authority for Ramsden Road have said on record that its decision on Ramsden Road was “was based on a visual assessment of the road and discussion with colleagues and the Peak Park on the most equitable way forward”. No date of when this decision was taken, no details of who was involved, what information it was based on, absolutely no record of it whatsoever.
Again it is well worth reading the Jacob’s letter report as an example of how these matters should be properly dealt with.
This report concerns Jacob’s ladder which is a byway at Stoney Middleton rather than the bridleway in Edale of the same name.
And so it was told in the Book Of Big Excuses 14:22-33 (and that council email the other day) “Behold Rambler, Scar End Lane,New Mill. The great sea of Neglect rises forth each winter. Do not be afraid. It has been a long walk into the night. Fear not the storms. For it is maintained in character only. But have ye faith. For we will not repair it. Nor will you be forgiven your trespass into the next field. Step forth and come to me. Walk on the water.
A change is as good as a rest they say and the opportunity to look at a path obstruction in Calderdale turned into a bit of a treat. Erringden is the smallest parish in the great sweep of Calderdale and clings to the flanks of Stoodley Pike.
All I had to go on was an iffy grid reference and the words “South West of Cruttonstall”. I knew I was onto something good climbing through rustling,mossy woods in my pedestrian time machine. Clearly there’d never been car access to this place!
Reassuringly I came across the usual barbed wire encrusted waymarks and see saw stiles which are such a part of walking. Such features are so commonplace on public paths the average rambler would feel unsettled without them confirming the way ahead.
Cruttonstall is listed but the dry words offer no description of the real place which positively oozes the essence of Ted Hughes’ sideburns. On a raw afternoon with a biting East wind hurling Curlew babbles at Stoodley Pike it was a wonderful place to be.
Back in the autumn of 2017 we stood shoulder to knee with the little people of Kirklees and had a good old PathWatch rant at The Kirklees Play Strategy What was particularly galling about the whole sordid report was the way this particular turd was polished up into a shiny positive thing by council managers intent on stealing the kids swings( FFS!)
So here we are in Spring 2019 and approval has been given by the Kirklees Cabinet members to…well… steal the kids swings and replace them with some soil and stones. The big idea is that the kids can use the soil and stones to have fulfilling imaginative play. Maybe they’ll imagine playing on the swings?
This of course is not just wrong on many levels but wrong on every level ever and wrong in every parallel universe that has,may or does exist. Arguably the councillors and managers that have dreamt up this little wheeze to save a few quid should have their homes,cars and phones confiscated and be left for eternity in a pile of soil and rocks to reflect.
In a sad but wonderful irony one of the 137 children’s playgrounds earmarked for swapping swings for muck and rocks is in Marsden . The community here raised £70k to equip the site which only opened in 2013. Now the £8k climbing frame and £4k rope swing, amongst other things, will be taken away and replaced by dirt and rocks.
The council seem to think this is all positive and wonderful as the equipment isn’t needed because the toddlers of Marsden can just imagine!
In another bittersweet irony a tory councillor ( The same tories who have throttled councils for a decade? Surely not? Ed) has started a petition to save the swings and for the sake of the small people it can be signed here
So what chance somewhere like Ramsden Road and it’s friends group or the wider public path network? Perhaps Kirklees will actually take it all away and suggest we all just imagine….
In the latest chapter of this sorry saga Kirklees Council have attempted to wash their hands of the dumping here by claiming that the “landowner” has “used hardcore to improve the footings and drainage of the Prow” (Footpath 144) . When your sides have stopped aching at that one the council go on to say that the “landowner has permission from the Environment Agency” to do this. The only evidence provided for these claims is this link which tells you absolutely nothing about this site,who is responsible for the works and under what authority they are operating. Path Watch has of course contacted the Environment Agency to check this out.
The Council’s latest position omits to mention or explain why it has allowed the complete obstruction of Colne Valley Footpath 144 for some 5 months now. The duty the council has under s130 of the Highways Act 1980 to assert & protect the rights of the public to use public paths and to prevent their stopping up has been ignored yet again.
Whatever permission the landowner has from the Environment Agency it will not extend to obstructing and destroying the public footpath here.
It’s interesting to note how the council’s story is evolving. Firstly they ignored reports of the dumping for 3 months. Then they said the dumping had been removed. Then they said they’d given permission for it to be buried. Now they are saying the Environment Agency have given permission for burying waste on Footpath 144.
As for the claims that the path has been improved- the first photo below shows how it looked in June and the following photos record what has happened since.