Holmfirth Footpath 150 – Kirklees Remove Pallet.

That might just be the most underwhelming headline you ever read.

I can report that following reports from the public the offending pallet on Holmfirth Footpath 150 has indeed been removed by Kirklees.

Whilst other issues are still outstanding thanks are due to the Council for acting so swiftly and sending out the right message.

There’s no doubt this kind of thing can be a thankless task. Having served notice on the landowner after a long period of informal discussions failed it must be galling to see the path deliberately blocked again so soon.

Of course the actions of one person in blocking the path have cost the tax payer and wasted council staff time. In a world of diminishing public resources these costs should be fully recovered from those acting illegally. It might make them stop and think next time.

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.

The Footpath Which Crosses The Site Shall Not Be Obstructed….

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So goes one of the most well used and routinely ignored planning footnotes in Kirklees. Both images here show public rights of way across small sites where the developer has been clearly advised by Kirklees of the existence of public footpaths. That advice is not to obstruct or interfere with the public paths during or after development.

Kirklees are getting this right much of the time. There are even specific conditions within planning permissions relating to public rights of way ( see Holmfirth Bridleway 154 and Planning Condition 4 ) designed to protect them.

It all goes wrong when planning footnotes and conditions such as these are ignored by developers and Kirklees fails to take action.

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“I’m embarrassed to be associated with this Council” says local councillor!

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The Washpit Mills  planning proposal for 50 plus houses and a gym in this peaceful Holme Valley backwater was predictably waved through by  councillors on the Huddersfield Planning sub committee of 8th March. The Labour chair of the committee did the deed with his casting vote condoning continued obstruction of a long established public right of way through the site along with a requirement for locals to hang onto their wellies  for the foreseeable future if they wish to paddle along Footpath 195.

In stark contrast to the cynicism displayed by labour councillors, yet again dumping on the Holme Valley,  local residents who spoke to the committee were eloquent in their arguments against the proposals.  Their considered words were of course completely ignored by our democratic representatives who only obey the Red Lord from Heckmondwike,Darth Sheard.  He wishes to build, build, build -not affordable houses that are needed by local people but, in effect, a “council tax farm” to keep his empire afloat.

Local tory councillor Nigel Patrick had something of a “fight them on the beaches/Winston Churchill” moment calling out his own Highways officers who he suggested (with some justification) of “not looking at the same roads as me.”Describing how he worked closely with planners and highways officers Cllr Patrick described the report as “a slap in the face” and said he felt “let down”. Clearly the implication was that in all his meetings with planners and highways officers they’d not bothered to mention they were going to do the dirty on him when it came to committee.

He had a very telling point regarding a proposed footway which will have a dropped kerb to allow vehicles and HGV’s in particular to …er…. drive over it! “It’s total and utter nonsense,it’s pure fantasy a fairytale ” he continued. And he is right.

The problem with such committees in Kirklees is that they vote on party political lines  and if Jones Homes or Wimpey came in and wanted the first born of every family in a tory ward before building so much as a garden shed our gormless labour councillors would oblige.

This approach is leading to the disregard and ruin of a significant proportion of the local rights of way network and countryside.If a local councillor of whatever persuasion can say in public that “I’m embarrassed to be associated with this council” then there really is something seriously wrong.

On a lighter note veteran Cllr Ken Simms described the sharp suited developers as “thinking we’re all daft and wear flat caps and clogs” He forgot the whippets and mine is rather offended.

 Link  to webcaste of the meeting.

 

 

 

IPROWE Training Courses.

Our three new training courses for the Spring of 2018 are all that is needed for the aspiring rights of way officer to launch a long and ineffective career in the discipline or if you’re an old hand brush up on some essential skills you’ve probably never had.

Platitudes for local government officers.

The definitive guide! An in depth view at the effective use of platitudes in local government and how they can be best used to avoid saying anything meaningful and to be sure of never committing your authority to ever doing anything ever! On completing this course you will be able to speak fluently in irritating platitudes and piss off your tax paying customers so much they’ll never bother you again!

Prioritising rights of way reports.

Yes here it is! The foolproof way to create a priority matrix so complicated it is actually impossible for any report made by a member of the public to ..well take any priority at all. Devised by the Institutes long standing President Simon Shirker it relies on an impossible combination of days of the week, underwear and sock colour and Friday afternoon flexi time to create a priority lottery none can win! With this system in place you can discard the public and spend your time at work more creatively doing those things you’d prefer to get on with rather than what you’re paid to do!

Llamas and bridleways

When fluent in platitudes and protected from the public by our priority lottery you’ll have time for the more esoteric side of rights of way work. This six week residential course in Peru with our South American member Juan Shakystylo is the perfect start to your new direction. Juan presents his controversial theory that Llamas are legally permitted not just on public bridleways but also as a “usual accompaniment” on footpaths too! Places are booking fast!

Divine intervention on Staffordshire Footpath.

God

Is this a sign? Is there a God? The divine intervention on a Staffordshire footpath has raised all sorts of deep philosophical questions. Not least can we have a visit from Reverend Oliver Harrison and his Godly bolt cutters here in Kirklees? Let us pray.

Reverend Harrison has taken direct action to reopen a public footpath and is quoted as saying “I dare them to take me to court. They are obstructing a public right of way for the pursuit of private profit.“For several years I have been campaigning to get this footpath reopened. My pleas to the council and to the owners and operators of the quarry seem to have stalled, so I have now taken direct action. I am not taking the law into my own hands, this is a legal right of way, a public access, a footpath. We deserve and we demand to have our rights respected and the footpath open and accessible.”

Amen to that!

 

 

 

Institute of Public Rights of Way and Excuses Management

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Delighted to host the first in a series of  guest blogs from IPROWE .

Had a particularly complex prow problem to deal with recently which illustrates neatly just how hard this job can be! Fortunately it came in on a Wednesday and so met my priority criteria of  wearing matching red underwear and socks on a day with a W in it. The only higher criteria would be reports received on one of the 3 Friday afternoons a year when I go commando and have not flexed off.

My tricky little prow issue came in via our Chief Executive who was showing a previously unseen interest in a public footpath report. Always a bit of a googly when the big cheese lobs one in like that isn’t it? I decided to drop everything I was doing to visit the site. Unfortunately this meant delaying serving notice on a number of obstructions for Peak & Southern Ramblers Society. Well they’ve been waiting 30 years for the priority matrix to churn them out so what’s another decade?

On the face of it the Chief Exec’s little problem seemed incredibly straight forward. Leaves on a public footpath making it look a bit untidy according to the Chair of Lower Dumpdale Parish Council who incidentally happens to be the Chief Execs brother in law. Funny coincidence that.

However when I visited the site that same day I realised the scale of the  problem to hand. Despite a nagging little voice in my head saying “Just get the brush and shovel and a bin bag  from the van and clear them away” I couldn’t help but think there was more to it than that. Clearly other matters would have to be set aside as I looked into the legal intricacies of this issue further.

We can’t do everything at once and if I’m tied up on a complex matter like the Chief Exec’s leaves then that’s time I cannot spend doing real work like moving obstructions,putting up sign posts or on definitive map work. Whilst this may be the public’s expectation I’m afraid It’s just not as simple as that . Austerity has led to huge budget cuts and now the Chief Exec only has one rights of way officer to run around after him instead of  the ten he was used too. This is bound to have an effect on levels of service we can provide to the public…..

To Be Continued 

The real blog which is a good read but perhaps does give some indication as to why things take soooo looong to get sorted in the world of rights of way.

 

 

 

 

Holmfirth Bridleways

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Ox Lee Lane

There are the sum total of 8 bridleways in the Parish of Holmfirth out of a total of around 200 public rights of way. In Kirklees only 8% of the 700 odd miles of public rights of way are bridleways. They are a rare and increasingly endangered thing. This is such a shame because their multi use status for walkers,riders and cyclists gives them added value to a wider range of users.

Unfortunately 4 out of the 8 Holmfirth bridleways have featured on this blog which as you know is the A&E of rights of way and for some paths being featured here is akin to having the last rites read to you a few puffs before you’re final breath.

Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 189 are about to celebrate the first anniversary  of a botched attempt to turn them into a road by Yorkshire Water. This time last year a limestone surface was laid over the existing sandstone which led to numerous complaints from users. Kirklees failed miserably to cure the problem by allowing Yorkshire Water to bury the limestone under a second concrete like foreign substance. More Harold Shipman than Dr Kildare from our local Highway Authority.

Up on Cheesgate Nab Holmfirth Bridleway 134   is on the slab awaiting some unnecessary plastic surgery to remove it’s natural good looks in favour of a wrinkle free but car friendly finish.

Our most recent addition to the ward is Ox Lee Lane – Holmfirth Bridleway 154 now a Frankenstein creation of rocks & road planings resembling a badly put together jigsaw of left over materials. Our Dr Shipman highway authority is lurking at the end of the ward probably about to administer a final dose of indifference to finish it off.

Upper Millshaw

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Despite bringing the excavation of this path to the councils attention as it was happening some 9 weeks ago it remains as can be seen above a mud bath. We’ve had a fair bit of snow and frost over the past weeks at this altitude and as predicted it hasn’t done the path any good at all.

The padlock and chain remain on the new gate

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It’s incredible how high the bar is set in Kirklees before the council will take some prompt and appropriate enforcement action. I’m told you can get 3 London double decker buses placed directly on top of each other beneath it and still have room to stand on top giving the finger to members of the public.