Kirklees plan to repair and reinstate drainage on the flat top section of Ramsden Road in Spring 2020. The Council will meet the full costs from public funds. Money which only a year ago they claimed not to have. In their words “The Council is using public funds to bring back to a condition suitable for its legitimate use by the public a damaged public right of way” . Not so long ago of course the very same managers were expressing the view that “legitimate vehicle use is causing damage to Ramsden Road” and that “Repair works need to bed in…this is why an Experimental Traffic Regulation order is required”
Whilst is is good news a long section of Ramsden Road is to be repaired it remains a concern that both public money and the repairs are not to be protected by use of a temporary closure order restricting motor vehicles.
Proposed works –
Ramsden Road – Holmfirth Public Byway Open to All Traffic No 90:
Outline works proposal:
Dig drainage ditch out on south side of Ramsden road and broadcast adjacent to works, surplus materials will be transported to quarry and landscaped in approved location.
Open up existing culverts and where possible clean or repair – allocated a maximum of 4, 300mm x 6m twin wall pipes for this works.
Regrade ground level and broadcast to the north of Ramsden road to allow surface water to disperse away and cut new grips where needed.
Geotextile membrane to be installed in the severely damaged areas.
Locally sourced 100/150mm clean sandstone to be laid and compacted in the low areas to bring these areas back up to adjacent ground level.
Locally sourced 40mm to dust sandstone will be laid at a minimum of 100mm to surface the clean sandstone
All items to be compacted in layers using a ride on roller.
This material to be finished slightly chamfered to aid drainage of to extend longevity.
Edges of the area to be redressed using existing topsoil from initial strip and seeded if required.
Any soft areas disturbed off the path line during works to be made good and graded back in with the surrounding area. This to be kept to a minimum wherever possible by restricting turning points and reducing work being carried out during wet weather.
Assume that no excavated materials will be removed from site. All materials excavated during the works will be reused within the works area.
The committee papers for Holmfirth 60 are now available here . Sadly the officer recommendation to the planning committee is that a diversion order should be made. As committee members usually vote in line with officers advice this is both a worrying and baffling recommendation. It represents a new nadir for rights of way management in Kirklees and a shining example of the value placed on our wonderful paths (not much?Ed) by our council.
Local walking and running groups and many individuals from the community oppose the diversion of Footpath 60. These are the same groups and individuals who contribute much to keeping the rights of way network and much other local green infrastructure open and serviceable because the council cannot or will not do so.
It is clear that Kirklees has reservations about the diversion of Footpath 60. Although the recommendation is to make an order to divert the path, at the same time the recommendation states that if objections to the order are made (which they will be) the council will not actively seek confirmation of the diversion order.
In effect this recommendation (if approved) passes the decision to a future public inquiry where Kirklees will sit on the sidelines and saving the path will be left to volunteers. Public Inquiries are expensive and funded entirely by the public. So not only are the public at risk of losing a long established and much valued footpath, they will also pay handsomely for the privilege. Kirklees has badly lost its way here.
Kirklees officers have more than enough information to recommend to committee that an order should not be made. The original mistake in not identifying Footpath 60 as a direct off road link to Wolfstones , an area of public resort, was made by Kirklees officers and has never been acknowledged or addressed. That information in itself is significant enough to recommend an order is not made yet it has been gaslighted out of existence.
As guardian of our public rights of way network Kirklees is not fit for purpose by any measure. Will Holmfirth Footpath 60 become the latest victim next Thursday?
The application to divert this popular path which gives direct access to public land at Wolfstones will be heard at the Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee next week. Details of the meeting are here .
It is highly unlikely that any of the councillors on the committee have heard of this path ,let alone use it. Most of them probably won’t read the papers that accompany the committee report and none have any training in public rights of way matters. However it is their decision whether to authorise a legal order to divert this path away from it’s destination and onto a road. If you use and value the path and have the time please consider attending the meeting to put your view to the committee members. It is at 13:00 hrs at the Town Hall in Huddersfield on January 30th.
Some points to consider
There is no obligation at all for the committee to give authority for the making of a diversion order. Just because the application is related to a planning permission it does not follow that an order has to be made.
The planning permission is for a car parking area and a link between 2 buildings. There is no planning gain for the public here ie houses to live in, improved highway network etc. However there is a the significant loss of a very popular long standing public path. The loss of the public amenity and enjoyment is very significant and and is not outweighed by any public benefit from the development.
As previously reported here Kirklees planners and Rights of Way accepted this application without the full knowledge that the path is the only direct (off road) public access to the area of public land at Wolfstones. This was a serious error.
The proposed new path is substantially less convenient for walkers heading to Wolfstones. It turns at 90 degrees off the current direct route and ends up on a road some distance away. Walkers then have to back track to reach the access to Wolfstones. Currently the path goes straight there. Most of us walk to get away from cars and roads and to enjoy the quiet countryside.
Kirklees have recently declared a climate emergency and developed an action plan. The plan aims to increase walking in the district by 20% it also states “The Council will 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”. This proposal makes a popular circular route harder and less attractive to the public and will lead to less public use.This conflicts with the councils stated aims outlined in the climate emergency plan.
The proposal is also at odds with the Councils Rights of Way Improvement Plan which aims to boost green tourism, short circular walks,local culture and heritage and access for those with disabilities. Effectively diverting a public path onto a road goes against these aims.
Should the committee be minded to grant authority for a diversion order they should instruct officers to abandon the current “neutral” stance which they are taking and take a stance against the order in the future and at any subsequent public inquiry.
One thing you can say with confidence about local highway authorities in West Yorkshire is that the standard of path obstruction is regular,long standing and of a very high quality. I’m not saying this is necessarily a good thing but at least there are few surprises.
Here’s a selection from the smorgasbord of problems on a 4 mile walk in Calderdale.
A public inquiry is to be held next week into the soup of claims and stopping ups on the paths at Clayton Fields,Edgerton,Huddersfield. A flavour of this particular disaster can be read in Clayton Fields – Peak Parody? There have been further developments since that article but even PathWatch lost track (got bored?Ed) of the councils tortuous efforts to deny public access to a popular urban greenspace and build houses on it instead.
If you are having trouble sleeping the Inquiry starts at 10.00am on 21st January 2020 at Brian Jackson House,New North Parade,Huddersfield. HD1 5JP.
In the topsy turvy upside down world of Kirklees Public Rights of Way, the Council, who have a legal duty to stop public paths being obstructed and to assert the public’s right to use rights of way, are going to great lengths (and expense?Ed) to ensure a water trough can stay on a public footpath rather than just ..well…move it.
It would appear that moving it to keep the path clear and avoid potential damage by animals visiting the trough is far to simple a solution for our hapless highway authority. Instead they will “monitor the situation and reserve the councils position regarding trough siting and operation” (we’re not making this up! Ed)
The matter has been dealt with by Karl Battersby, Strategic Director of Economy & Infrastructure. Mr Battersby recently wrote to a local ward Councillor regarding the trough and advised that the “water trough placed on the route is not authorised but again we will not take action”. (Has austerity cut so deep at Kirklees Council that the only person left to deal with such a minor public rights of way issue is a Strategic Director? .Ed)
Is Mr Battersby condoning the obstruction of a public footpath here? The councils footpaths officer has advised Mr Battersby that the trough “may be an obstruction” and that “siting of troughs on/near public rights of way is not encouraged and its placement and use may cause problems”. How is the the public interest and the councils statutory duties to keep paths open and to assert public rights being met in this case? How are the councils wider obligations as a service provider under the Disability Discrimination Act being met by allowing an “unauthorised” structure to sit on a 1.2 metre wide footpath? Did Mr Battersby take any of these points into consideration when making his decision?
Permitting paths to be obstructed or partially obstructed in this manner does not seem to fit with the councils recently stated aim contained in it’s Climate Emergency Plan that “The Council will 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”. The Council also have a target of increasing walking by 20% in the plan. Will putting water troughs on footpaths help achieve this? Or will it make paths unattractive and difficult to use? Or impossible to use should you have a disability?
Sadly there is no detail in Mr Battersby’s correspondence regarding how the unauthorised trough will be monitored. Will it be visited daily,weekly or monthly by Mr Battersby? Perhaps the Prow satellite can be redirected to orbit the trough on a regular basis to see what it’s up to? Will ramblers be encouraged to befriend the trough when they can’t get down the path because of it?
After a quiet period chart wise the path became a Christmas no.1 for 2019 and hits the new year at the top of the charts. As you can see from the photos the public path has been obliterated by works associated with a nearby development. The legal line of the path has gone and so to the proposed diversion (new path) approved by kirklees as a splendid idea at committee in July 2019.
This could be top of the path pickers charts for months to come…. Whatever you do don’t try to walk it.