Previously on PathWatch we’ve blogged about works to Holmfirth Footpath 133 being undertaken,washing away within weeks and having to be done again. See here and here. We’ve questioned the wisdom of using stone aggregate on steep Pennine paths with a history of drainage problems and acknowledged the need and difficulty of using a more sustainable method.
Sadly Holmfirth Footpath 133 has again failed over the weekend after the passage of Storm Ciara. Most of the stone aggregate is half way down the hill. The drains are blocked and there are deep gullies in the path surface. The path needs extensive repairs for the 3rd time in less than a year.
What Holmfirth 133 neatly demonstrates is the extent and seriousness of Kirklees Councils maintenance liability for rights of way, the false economy of using sandstone on such slopes and the lack of imagination amongst senior managers (to busy authorising “unauthorised” water troughs? Ed) in developing a sustainable maintenance strategy for the rights of way network. As an organisation the Council seem entirely content with making the same mistakes over and over again.
Footpath 133 was a decent job. Great attention had been paid to drainage and the second lot of stone put down was larger and less “clean” than the first, so bound together very well but it still could not handle the weather here.
What Kirklees are proposing to do on Ramsden Road (largely to keep 4×4 drivers happy.Ed) is the same technique used on Footpath 133 (and others) but with the added ingredient of heavy 4×4 vehicles using the route. The Council know this technique fails sooner or later (without vehicle use) and it also knows legitimate 4×4 use on Ramsden Road damages the unmade surface. It seems more than happy to ignore this information and potentially make a more expensive version of the same mistake on Ramsden Road. Go figure.
There’s been a noticeable increase in vehicular traffic on Ramsden Road over the past few weeks and the attendant surface damage is noticeable. Vehicles are now leaving the hard surface of Ramsden Road to create deep ruts on the adjacent verges. More often than not these verges are the only dry, even surface for walkers.
This type of use and style of driving is clearly unsustainable,costly and anti social. How will Kirklees Council’s proposed repairs in Spring 2020 stand up to this abuse?
Any reputable Highway Authority would survey use prior to spending public money on such a sensitive project. As it is Kirklees have no idea how many vehicles use Ramsden Road, what time of year is busy/quite or direction of travel for instance, which is particularly relevant with regards to vehicles on the hill section. They therefore cannot come to any defensible position on using a Traffic Regulation Order to mitigate the damage being done nor any understanding of an appropriate solution. They have no data on usage by walkers,cyclists or riders and no idea what the main traffic or usage of the road is. Essential information for any successful scheme.
Whilst it isn’t too late to do things properly it’s getting close.
PathWatch is pleased to report that Holmfirth Footpath 165 has had a significant short back and sides to the laurel hedges which just about met in the middle. A new footpath sign has been installed and surface vegetation cut back too.
It is reported in the Harrogate Informer that Kirklees Strategic Director and some time authoriser of “unauthorised” water troughs on Holmfirth Paths , Mr Karl Battersby, is leaving the promised land of Kirklees to join North Yorkshire County Council where he will look after Highways & Waste.
PathWatch would like to take this opportunity to offer our deepest condolences to ramblers in North Yorkshire.
The awful proposal to divert Holmfirth 60 went to the Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee today. Eloquent and authentic speakers from Holmfirth Walkers Are Welcome, The Ramblers,Peak & Northern Footpaths Society,Huddersfield Rucksack Club and Holmfirth Harriers among others put the case against diverting this lovely path.
For the first time in nearly 20 years councillors voted against the officer recommendation (which was to divert the path) and voted to keep it where it is!
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?