Link To Order Decision Huddersfield Byway 231 Nether Moor Farm

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A link to the  Order Decision  for the Inquiry opened on 29 January 2019 by Mark Yates BA(Hons) MIPROW an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Decision date: 17 June 2019. Huddersfield Byway 231 in English 🙂

Inspector Confirms Order In Huddersfield Byway 231 Case

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News has reached the PathWatch office that the planning inspector has confirmed the order in the long running  saga of Huddersfield Byway 231. The way is now a bridleway and confirmation of the order will shortly be advertised in the press and on site.

Huge congratulations to  Kirklees Bridleways Group for  their persistence and hard work which has made this happen and also to  the public who gave evidence at the  inquiry in January.

It is still possible for the order to be challenged on procedural grounds but not on the evidence.

More on this in due course.

 

Ramsden Road Kirklees V Jacob’s Ladder Derbyshire

 

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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.

 

Holmfirth Footpath 60 Diversion Back Out For Consultation.

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Wolfstone Heights

In an unwelcome sequel the proposal to divert Holmfirth Public Footpath 60 Wolfstones has been resurrected and is now out for public consultation. The diversion is connected to  planning applications here and here. The application is made under the Town & Country Planning Act and does meet the criteria as being necessary for the development to go ahead. However there is no obligation for Kirklees to make such an order and given the level and quality of public objection during the first (withdrawn) consultation in 2018  they should not be entertaining a second bite at the cherry.

For anyone walking from Holmfirth, Netherthong or  the valley and heading for Wolfstone Heights the proposed diversion takes you away from your destination just as you are almost there.  It would be a much less commodious path compared to the current long established direct route of Footpath 60.

Kirklees Council were unaware of  the public status of the land at Wolfstone Heights trig point (which Footpath 60 links to directly) when the original application was accepted. For clarity the land belongs to Holme Valley Land Charity whose sole trustee is Holme Valley Parish Council. The purpose of the charity is “To promote such charitable purposes for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Holme Valley”. The land at Wolfstones (WYK821600) has been retained by the charity for the benefit of the community for informal recreation. The details can be viewed here .(There is a claim made in the diversion application that access to the charity owned land can be closed at anytime.This does not appear to be the case). Arguably Kirklees would not have accepted the original application had they known this as the proposal makes access to Wolfstone Heights more difficult. Public rights of way are a material consideration in the planning process but this obligation has not been discharged correctly in this case.

In response to consultations on the original planning applications which included moving the path Kirklees Prow unit responded saying –

” moving the terminus of path 60 to the north will take it away from the existing access to Wolfstones Height, by over 100 metres, however that access is not currently recognised as public and this rural road has a serviceable
verge for walking”

The premise that the access to Wolfstones Height is not public is incorrect. Wolfstones Heights is a place of public resort being reserved for public enjoyment by Holme Valley Land Charity. It is quite obviously very well used and known locally. Importantly Holmfirth Footpath 60 is the only public footpath (and off road route) which links directly to the Wolfstone Heights access. Unfortunately the whole diversion process has stemmed from this initial oversight in 2014.

Kirklees Council should have established the correct status of the access and land at Wolfstone Heights prior to accepting any diversion proposal to move the terminus of Footpath 60.

As previously mentioned there is no obligation on Kirklees Council to make an order to divert Footpath 60. Their initial decision to accept such an application was flawed because it was based on  incomplete and incorrect information regarding the link between Footpath 60 and direct access to Wolfstone Heights. The Council now have good reason not to make an order in light of this information but sadly they are taking a “neutral” position and sitting on the fence.

The consultation is open until 9th July 2019 and you can see the proposal and comment here

 

Kirklees Take Being Economical With The Truth To A New Level.

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Kirklees have gone into the Guiness Book of Records for the local authority most economical with the truth. PathWatch has spoken to the Councils Truth Zsar Ms Georgia Orwell-Trotter who has worked at the authority since 1984. “We are delighted to hold the world record for being economical with the truth. I can’t see our record being broken for a long time,if ever” said Ms Orwell-Trotter. “Only Council approved versions of the truth are permitted in Kirklees and we keep a close eye on how much is used. In these times of austerity we must make the truth go as far as possible by using  half truths, evasions  or better still just completely ignoring the public who fund us and expect us to answer their questions” snorted Ms Orwell-Trotter.

Meanwhile back in the real world they probably ought to go straight into the Guiness Book of Records for the latest answer to a series of legitimate and very straight forward questions concerning the decision to drop a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order and proposed repairs on Ramsden Road. Some £8k of public money was spent in 2018 securing the TRO and doing works on site.

The decision to make an order was a delegated officer decision agreed with senior managers and councilors at Kirklees and subject to a public consultation. However according to Kirklees the decision to drop the TRO was “based on a visual assessment of the road and discussion with colleagues and the Peak Park on the most equitable way forward.” Really? What does that statement actually mean?  If this was a delegated officer decision there should be a record of who took the decision, why,when and what other options were considered. This is a legal requirement under the openness in government regulations. If it was a Committee decision there should be a report, record of the meeting and decision and even a webcast! But there is nothing, just this meaningless statement. The contrast between the decision making process to secure a TRO and the decision to drop it is rather illuminating.

We also asked Kirklees if the decision was a result of any influence from Councillor Nigel Patrick and the now ex Councillor Sims. In answer to this they referred us to the previous answer  “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.” Another belting answer 🙂

We also asked how much it had cost Kirklees to go to court and rescind the order. They answered “We don’t have a figure”. More excellent management of public money there then! Was it a few hundred quid or 10 grand? Who knows?

Obviously PathWatch will not be fobbed off by this nonsense and we have lodged an internal appeal and will go to the information commissioner should our legitimate questions not be answered fully and honestly.

The Council’s thoughtful and considered response is below.

Ramsden Road, Holmfirth

  1. Please can you provide me with the notes of the meeting held on 14th June 2018 between Rob Dalby, Wll Accornley and Councillors Simms, Patrick & Firth (or whichever of the 3 attended.)

Notes were not made of this meeting.

  1. Please also provide details of the other items on the agenda at this meeting which are redacted in Rob Dalby’s email of 13 June 2019 (attached for information).

The agenda items were:

  • Information flow to Elected Members on volunteer activity
  • The sale and re-investment of funds for the land parcel behind the library
  • The Ex’ TRO on Ramsden Road
  • Concerns regarding the landscape standards within the ward in general
  • Agree a schedule of update meetings to ensure that any issues and activity is flagged early to ward members.
  1. Please also provide me information that shows who at Kirklees Council took the decision not to proceed with the ETRO on Ramsden Road and the reasoning behind this decision.

This decision was based on a visual assessment of the road and discussion with colleagues and the Peak Park on the most equitable way forward.

  1. Please advise if this decision was a result of Councillor Patrick and/or Simms involvement.

Please see answer to question 3 above.

  1. Please also advise how much money withdrawing the ETRO has cost.

The Council does not hold a figure of the costs for withdrawing the experimental traffic regulation order.

Bank Holiday Fun On Ramsden Road.

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4×4 negotiating Ramsden Road, Peak District National Park

The decline in the condition of Ramsden Road continues and indeed would seem to be accelerating. These images were taken on the long sloped section which is within the Peak District National Park. Some 12 years or so ago when a local petition was raised to Kirklees Council about the condition of the road and use by 4×4 vehicles the road looked like this.

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Ramsden Road 2007

 It was just at the point of perhaps being repairable and it’s rural character saved. Sadly the Council, subject to a toxic mix of ineptitude and political interference, did nothing. The sloping section in the Peak Park has gone completely now and is recognised as being unsafe by the Council.

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The cattle grid in 2019. The structure is breaking up in situ.

 

That same toxic soup of ineptitude and political interference drives the Council in 2019. Walkers are vulnerable users and have to negotiate a surface akin to walking on marbles, deep ruts, holes, a broken cattle grid and of course 4×4’s and motorbikes. Who is standing up for pedestrian users? Certainly not our local tory councillors who are determined to protect motorbikes and 4×4’s and in doing so prolong the mess in England’s most popular National Park .

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Motorbike on Ramsden Road,Peak District National Park

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Prow Officer Delegation. Importance High.

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Under s147 of the Highways Act 1980 the Council,as highway authority, has powers to authorise the erection of gates,stiles or other structures on public rights of way. Landowners must obtain this authority prior to erecting any new structure on a public path.

The circumstances for granting authority are pretty limited and usually agricultural in nature. Best practice is to keep paths clear of structures as far as possible and go for the least restrictive option such as a gap or gate rather than any type of stile. The structure should meet BS:5709  

The days of putting up any old thing on a path are gone and any structure not properly authorised or in conflict with the councils obligations under the disability discrimination act are rightly open to challenge.

In Kirklees the straightforward  s147 process is delegated to officer level and is carried out very well. The rights of way network is slowly improving as outdated and unauthorised structures which limit who can use the network are removed and replaced with something fitting BS:5709.

Holme Valley South Councillor Nigel Patrick contacted the Council’s senior legal officer in November 2018 to ask if a delegated officer decision under s147 can be referred to committee if he is unhappy with it.

Is Councillor Patrick  unhappy because of an excess of poor stiles and structures being authorised by officers ? Or is he unhappy because of something else?

Councillor Patrick’s request is certainly an interesting one. Decisions under s147 are very straight forward as the law is  clear on the limited circumstances a council can authorise a structure on a public right of way. Most councils delegate a wide range of simple decision making to officer level for the efficient running of the authority. The suggestion of  s147 decisions being subject of a committee approval would make the whole process more bureaucratic, expensive and inefficient. Who would it benefit?

 

 From: Cllr Nigel Patrick
Sent: 29 November 2018 16:58
To: Julie Muscroft <Julie.Muscroft@kirklees.gov.uk>
Subject: PROW Officer Delegation and the Constitution
Importance: High
Dear Julie,
Officers in public rights of way are making decisions under the officer scheme of delegation. For example officers
decide if a structure, like a gate, can be authorised under s147 of the Highways Act. As a ward councillor who may
be unhappy with an officer recommendation/ decision, can I ask that an officer recommendation/decision is
referred to a committee for decision and if so which committee?
Please advise
Thanks
Councillor Nigel Patrick
Holme Valley South Ward
Kirklees Council

From: Cllr Nigel Patrick
Sent: 07 December 2018 17:18
To: Julie Muscroft <Julie.Muscroft@kirklees.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: PROW Officer Delegation and the Constitution
Dear Julie,
Rob and have told me I cannot refer things to a committee. I know DMMO’s and Diversion applications go to
committee, but I have been told that a S147 authorisation for new structures on a prow cannot be determined by
committee. Is that true?
Then we look at committee. I am a sub for planning committees which means I can attend any of the planning
committees including strategic. As you know we get annual update training which we are forced to attend. I have
never been trained in prow matters so why are prow matters taken to these committees? Is it not time we had a
Highways Committee which dealt with prow matters and the committee members were trained in prow matters?
This would solve many of the problems which are piling up. Far too many for planning committees to deal with. They
are busy enough. We use to have a Planning and Highways Committee so why not bring it back but just call it the
Highways Committee?
Can this be done and if so how?
Councillor Nigel Patrick
Holme Valley South Ward
Kirklees Council