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.
Holmfirth Footpath 57 has featured on PathWatch before here and here . Following service of a s56 notice on Kirklees the route was extensively repaired in 2018. It was then allowed to become badly overgrown in the summer 0f 2019. So much so that the area repaired became invisible and unwalkable within a year of those repairs (subsequently strimmed).
As can be seen from the top photo the path has a new problem in the form of a broken culvert beneath the surface flooding the path.
What this all neatly demonstrates is the need for regular inspection and cyclic maintenance of our public rights of way.
It’s good to report that within a few days of the new water feature being reported Kirklees have done some temporary work to drain the immediate problem and a permanent repair to the culvert below is now planned.
The land beyond this gate is access land in the Peak District National Park and the public have the right to walk here. There was a proliferation of these signs in the area. Most did refer to private property but not this one. I’d only walked this way because the footpath I intended to use was blocked!
A good slice of this popular path has been washed away over the past two weekends of heavy rain. But are Ciara and Dennis really responsible?
The network of walled footpaths and bridleways in this area provided access to a number of small farms and settlements prior to the construction of Digley Dam and reservoir. At that time, some 70 odd years ago, all the tenants were evicted by the new landlord – the water board.
Had the water board, now Yorkshire Water, and possibly Kirklees Council continued to maintain the extensive network of open land drains and culverts which drained the footpaths,bridleways and adjoining land perhaps these routes would be in a better position today? Another example of not spending a penny to save a pound? Certainly another good example of how unconsolidated stone aggregate laid and rolled in on these steep upland paths is not the answer.
This limestone was thrown down by Yorkshire Water contractors and made a cosmetic difference while masking as serious underlying drainage issue which was not tackled.
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 ?