Life On Prow’s -BBC Attenborough Special

Scroat

The unmistakable Spring chorus of a two stroke engine breaks the evening silence to echo far across the Pennine hills. This lone male is searching the Yorkshire moors for a potential mate. He will ride hundreds of miles of public rights of way to show off his flamboyant courtship display to any female he comes across in his lonely quest for a potential partner.

Around the corner the less common over revving screech of an urban quad bike can be heard. Complete with tracksuited male rider and  terrified but giggling female pillion. This is a typical  but rarely observed courtship routine. The quads intricate movements around the abandoned quarries rocks and murky pools are the males way of both impressing the hapless female passenger and showing her his suitability as a mate.

These unique natural phenomenon are now protected in perpetuity by Kirklees Councils complete inability to put a Traffic Regulation Order on the rare habitat of Ramsden Road.

More Damage From January 2020 Storms Holmfirth 57 Washed Away…

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Holmfirth 57 April 2020

The 2020 January weather wasn’t kind to Holmfirth paths. Although a little late to the party another casualty of  the unusually wet winter storms is Holmfirth Footpath 57 at Netherthong.

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Holmfirth 57 April 2020

After many years of hassling Kirklees they resurfaced this path in June 2019. It has now all been washed away. At some point PathWatch will pull together a piece on recent Kirklees works to stone up out of repair paths in the Holme Valley and what has subsequently happened to them. It’s not pretty.

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Holmfirth 57 June 2019

Hands Free Option Not Available

Covid Sign

Along with all the other dodgy signs on local paths some rather swish looking Kirklees signs have appeared locally just in time for Easter. The signs are headlined “Covid 19 Advice For Your Safety” but bullet points 3 and 4 simply refer to the countryside code which has been around for many years and is unconnected to the current pandemic. Point 1 is a handy reminder of social distancing but it is point 3 advising the public to wash/sanitise hands after touching stiles & gates which is interesting.

For the past 3 years this blog has been highlighting the excessive number of poor stiles/gates on the path network which have no legal authority to be there. These structures,mostly stiles, are not recorded on the Definitive Map & Statement and Kirklees,as highway authority, should be removing them when they are made aware. They know from a 2007 network survey that there are in excess of 4,000 such structures on their paths.

The implication in advising the public to wash/sanitise hands after touching stiles & gates is that there is a risk of picking up Covid 19 from these structures. There’s a clamour amongst the “rural community” to have all paths closed so that they can be protected from virus ridden ramblers covering stiles & gates with the disease.

Why then isn’t the Council contacting landowners who they know have unauthorised structures on public paths and requesting prompt removal of these structures to mitigate the risk to public health?

Ironically PathWatch has noted a number of these Advice For Your Safety Signs attached to various unauthorised structures. See the photo below which shows such a sign attached to an unauthorised structure on Holmfirth Bridleway 68. This is an extremely well used gate which has no legal reason to be there. Why aren’t Kirklees removing such structures rather than posting signs on them? If landowners are so concerned about the risk to themselves why not simply remove the gate? No risk to public or landowner if that is done.

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Kirklees sign advising hand washing after touching gates due to Covid 19. Gate in photo is an unauthorised limitation and should not be there for people to touch.
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Advice for your safety sign

There are two further gates on this bridleway and neither has any legal authority to be on the path.

A little way past the gates in these photos a public footpath (also Holmfirth 68) branches off the bridleway up to Acres Lane. There are two unauthorised stiles on this section of path. One is difficult to climb and requires the use of both hands. Again a completely unnecessary risk for both the public and landowner.

Ironically the only path furniture that the public do not have to touch, the Public Footpath sign on Acres lane, has been pulled out and dropped behind a wall in the field! It was there a couple of weeks ago pre lockdown. There’s a long history of this sign “disappearing” but this one had stayed put for 2 years.

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Holmfirth Footpath 68 Acres Lane minus it Public Footpath sign which resides behind the wall on left.
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Public Footpath sign dumped over wall on Acres Lane

One thing to remember about all these unauthorised structures and the negative effect they have on the network is that senior people at Kirklees know all about it but really don’t care. Regular readers might recall that in Kirklees Launches New Standard For Structures On Paths ! “Not To Standard But Acceptable” 🙂 we told the very dodgy tale of  Kirklees Strategic Director Karl Battersby “authorising” non standard gates on a Holmfirth path, 3 in fact. None of these 3 gates are properly authorised or to any recognised standard. They have turned an 80 metre section of path which could be walked down without having to touch anything into something of a hotspot now Covid 18 has arrived.

Of course the risk is relatively low (unless you fall for the hysteria around this subject) but with over 4,000 such structures on paths in Kirklees and the phenomenal popularity in walking at present should Kirklees be doing something other than sticking laminated signs to the problem?

A few more unauthorised Frankensteins. Over 4,000 in stock. Terms & conditions apply. Hands free option not available.

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HOL 116 Structure (1 of 1)

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HOL 73 Fence obs

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Police Name Cleckheaton Man Charged With Excessive Rambling In Covid Crackdown

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West Yorkshire Police have named a Kirklees resident, Arthur Suggit of Cleckheaton, as the first man to be  charged with the new offence of “Excessive Rambling”. This serious offence was brought in recently under measures to fight the spread of Covid 19.

Sgt. Dixon of Dock Green from Heckmondwike station told the blog  “There’s a worrying trend in West Yorkshire of people leaving their cars at home because of the lockdown restrictions and…er …walking instead. We’ve seen a huge spike in this antisocial and criminal rambling craze, particularly amongst older residents who should know better. Mr Suggit’s behaviour in walking two and a half miles and staying out one hour and ten minutes exemplifies the widespread disregard for the law. When my officers arrested Mr Suggit he was also found to have a round of cheese and pickle sandwiches and a flask of tea in his possession. He has asked for these further offences to be taken into consideration. Mr Suggit can expect a long custodial sentence and the key may well be thrown away.”

PathWatch spoke exclusively to Arthur via a video link from his cell in Guantanamo Bay. Arthur, a retired geography teacher originally from Batley,  told us he was unable to get his daily copy of the Guardian  or his usual gluten free porridge at the US base but otherwise seemed in good spirits. We asked Arthur where it had all gone wrong and how had a morning ramble in Cleckheaton led to his arrest and detention in Guantanamo. “Unfortunately I have discovered a problem with Naismith’s Rule. Having carefully planned my route using Naismith’s long established formula for distance covered and time taken I have found it does not work in Kirklees. The formula does not take account of the number of path obstructions and unauthorised structures on Kirklees paths that the rambler must either evade or climb over. This omission in Naismith’s otherwise dependable calculations added exactly ten minutes to my route and landed me here in an orange boiler suit  in the clink.” 

Back in the real world Northamptonshire Police could soon be checking your shopping 

 and Police in Rotherham suggest that you can’t let your kids play in your own garden. The government manage to evade any accountability of course. It’s  ramblers, day trippers to Skegness and a lack of clapping. This reuters piece is worth a read and much closer to the truth of how we have got here. The Byline Times reports on the government’s plans for us all to get Covid 19 in as orderly fashion as possible.

Holmfirth Footpath 131 Gets A New Gate!

 

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New Gate April 2020

PathWatch recently reported on the removal of a long running  double step stile problem on this lovely little path. Following on from this a very wobbly section of old fence and stile has now been removed and replaced with a  gate (shown above).  Thanks to all involved 🙂

Holmfirth 131 Jan 2018 (1 of 1)
Clapped Out Stile & Fence January 2018
HOL 131 GATE
Site Location

The Power Of A Traffic Regulation Order

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Not TRO’d Byway 20.93/2
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TRO’d  Byway 20.93/1

The humble traffic regulation order in action on a byway in the Dales. The photos above were taken on The High Way in the Parish of High Abbotside where the way splits into two. Byway 20.93/2 heads south back into the valley whilst Byway 20.93/1 stays high and heads south east. It doesn’t take a genius to work out which one has a Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting motor vehicles and which one doesn’t.

It’s also a unique example of two byways next to each other. One clearly showing the positive effect of a TRO and the other exhibiting the obvious negative effects of damage caused to the route by vehicles.

Of course here in Kirklees it is completely different. Motor vehicles do not damage byways (less gravity here? Ed) and the Council are happy to pump in public cash to repair byways not damaged by vehicles and there’s no need for a TRO because well vehicles don’t…

There’s long experience in the Dales of the National Park putting TRO’s on these byways BEFORE repairing them and keeping the TRO in place to protect the surface from future vehicle damage. The added bonus to this approach is safe,unspoilt off road routes for non motorised users.

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Site location
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Ramsden Road. A Kirklees byway not damaged by vehicles.

Latest Defra Advice On Rights Of Way & Covid 19

Elec Fence sign

Don’t take advice from the pitch fork brigade. This is the latest government position and advice to its stakeholders.There are no path closures in England.

Defra message to stakeholders on Covid-19 020420

Public Rights of Way and Covid-19

The government’s priority is to save lives and the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay at home.

However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so the government has said people can leave their homes for exercise once a day.

NFU and CLA have told us that some landowners are still concerned about increased use of public rights of way on their property increasing the risk to livestock, such as instances of gates being left open and dogs not being controlled.

To help address this we will publish a supplementary video on social media in advance of this weekend, reminding people to follow the Countryside Code. This will be published on Twitter @DefraGovUK and Defra’s Facebook page. We encourage you to share this with your members and networks.

Finally, further concerns have been raised by stakeholders that the use of public rights of way that run through gardens, farmyards and schools is increasing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus to residents and farm workers.

The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.

Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:

  • Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
  • Temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools.

Note: this is a polite request only, and there is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained.

Key points to Note under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW)

  • Under Section 39 of CROW it is an offence to fail to comply with an order of the Magistrate’s Court to remove an obstruction. So a landowner must not obstruct any right of way.
  • It is an offence under section 14 of CROW to display a notice that contains “any false or misleading information likely to deter the public from exercising” a right of way.
  • Land owners may be liable for personal injury under section 13 (6C) of CROW if they are reckless or intend to create a risk – for example by offering a dangerous alternative.

This means that

  • If a land owner offers an alternative route, they must ensure that it is safe to use and that the existing right of way is maintained so that users with differing abilities have a choice.
  • A notice must not imply that there is any doubt about the use of the existing right of way.

These temporary measures must be lifted as soon as social distancing measures are relaxed.

Wording for Signs

Defra also produced suggested wording for signs requesting the public to use an alternative path as follows:

Public right of way Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This path passes through a private garden/working farmyard/working stables.

An alternative and safe permitted path is available to maintain social distancing and protect residents and local communities.

If you wish to use the alternative route please follow the way markers along this temporary route.

In line with Defra and Public Health England advice:

Maintain social distancing requirements –

Ensure you keep at least 2 metres away from other people

Hand wash/sanitise after touching any shared surfaces, e.g. stiles/gates.

Keep dogs on a lead around livestock and away from other people/dogs.

Leave gates as you find them.

For paths with no possible alternative:

Public right of way Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This path crosses through farmland & close to local people’s homes and their families.

In line with Defra and Public Health England Advice:

Maintain social distancing requirements –

Ensure you keep at least 2 metres away from other people.

Hand wash/sanitise after touching any shared surfaces e.g. stiles/gates.

Keep dogs on a lead near livestock and away from other people/dogs

Walking Locally During Lockdown

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The hysteria surrounding walking paths as a form of exercise during the current public lockdown has reached Holmfirth footpaths.  For clarity have a read of this link on the new law  bringing in the restrictions. You can walk public paths. There are no restrictions on driving a mile or two to do so. The police and all front line services have a difficult balancing act but it is   reported here  that they are now taking a more pragmatic approach to this issue and the drones have been grounded for now. West Yorkshire Police are reportedly not issuing warning letters for parked cars in walking areas locally. This LBQC   from St. John’s Chambers is also worth reading. Time to put the pitchforks away and be sensible.

Any signs such as the one above or obstructions should be reported to Kirklees in the usual manner here highways.ross@kirklees.gov.uk

Spenborough Footpath 110 Diversion Order Goes To Public Consultation During …Er…Public Lockdown

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PathWatch usually favours cock up rather than conspiracy  as far as Kirklees Council is concerned however the case of  Spenborough  Footpath 110 is debatable. The council made a legal order to stop up and divert part of this path to permit development on 12th March 2020. That’s the day after the World Health Organisation declared a worldwide pandemic  regarding Covid 19. The council wrote to statutory consultees on 19th March 2020 asking for any comments to be made by 1st May 2020.

It could just be bad timing of course or someone in the legal department who doesn’t get out much, go on the internet or even read a newspaper but it seems an odd and inappropriate time to be making orders diverting public footpaths. During the consultation time period the Council must legally post and maintain  notices on site and advertise the order in the press. An interesting use of resources in the current chaos. Of course no member of the public can go to the site to assess the pros and cons of the diversion order under the current lockdown restrictions.

The site in question belongs to Kirklees. In June 2019 Kirklees applied to itself and obtained planning permission to demolish the existing building and build a new leisure centre. This included diversion of Spen Footpath 110. Subsequently Kirklees applied to itself to stop up and divert the part of Spen Footpath 110 affected and this is the order currently being advertised.

Like I say it could be bad timing and just a fortunate coincidence that this is a great time to slip something like this through.

Link to order consultation Public Path Diversion Near Spen Valley Leisure Centre (1)