Council responds to obstruction at Nether Moor Farm

nether moor farm

Kirklees Council have taken action to remove an obstruction from a track at Nether Moor Farm. The track which is a designated right of way has been obstructed, preventing access for legitimate road users, including walkers and horse riders. As the local Highways Authority, we are obliged to keep the track open. We have received a number of complaints about the obstruction and was subsequently served with a legal notice by a local group.

In response we then served notice on the owners of Nether Moor Farm to remove an obstruction from the public right of way. When the owners failed to comply, we were then obliged to try and clear the obstructions ourselves, we attended the site to carry this out on 20 October 2015.

On attending we were prevented from removing the obstruction when the farm owners and a group of local people positioned themselves across the land and refused to move.

We are now left in a difficult position – if we fail to get the obstruction removed then we could be taken to court, for non-compliance with the statutory duty to keep the track clear. But it appears that further attempts to clear the track are unlikely to be successful and would lead to additional costs at a time when budgets are already under strain.

 

2 comments

  • Nether Moor Farm PRoW obstruction.

    So what’s new. The current financial situation has little bearing on KMC’s general willingness to or, indeed attitude towards, take up a legal challenge. That reluctance has been inherent for decades.

    I was secretary of Kirklees Bridleways Group from the mid-80’s to 2004 and we always found that was a common reaction from our Council until they were shamed into taking action. Granted, financial constraints are now more stringent than back then, but KMC has always (in my 20-plus years of PRoW experience that is) adopted a wishy-washy attitude to effectively applying enforcement orders for obstructed PRoW’s . That is more to do with a shortfall of personal application by the enforcement officers, mostly effected by the lack of willingness, not to mention a general ignorance about PRoW’s, of limp-wristed councillors to support our Council officers than with what we can afford to do. To break the law is just that in any economic climate and for those who are charged with enforcing laws which are devised for the greater public good and for our protection against abuse, is a moral cop-out and an administrative disgrace.

    If the farm owners/occupiers genuinely believe, as they state they do, that the PRoW is incorrectly shown on the definitive map and in the definitive statement, there is a well defined and correct procedure which they should be using to apply for a stopping up order and for the removal of that PRoW from the definite map. For our Council to cave in to bullying from a land owner/occupier, just because he or she may disapprove of the general public using what is, at present, legitimate public access, is simply crassly pathetic and totally unacceptable. The law is being broken and the failure of our Council to respond appropriately to that breach of the law is, quite, simply, yet another a failure of duty of care of our Council.

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  • Dear All,
    For the last few years we have been trying to get Kirklees Council to correct their Definitive map and Statement via a Definitive Map Modification Order.
    As you may have noticed Kirklees Council has stated that they are in difficult position regarding Nether Moor Farm and are now declining any further action.
    The problems encountered by the land owners are set out in Grim Fairy Tale and was published recently in a Rights of Way Newsletter. (There is link at the end of this. See page three onwards) This tale has been sent to all Councillors, Officers of Kirklees, the Press, MPs and a number of national user group reps such as TRF, BHS, Ramblers and IPROW.
    As you may recall the route was originally closed to users to dispel any “as of right” view but remained open to walkers and horse riders as a permissive way (unless you worked for the Council). We made repeated requests to be heard and went on to deliberately provide the Council with multiple reasons for the Council to place the matter before a Magistrate for prosecution or getting a clearance Order, by providing the Definitive Map as their conclusive evidence. They have declined to do this saying “it is not in the public interest”, that they have not got the officer time nor cash to do so. This is odd for a Council that can spend thousands sending men and machines to half-heartedly attempt to clear the way whilst spending additional thousands on Bear Walks and poetry readings. You should be asking yourself why? It’s a simple matter if the Definitive Map lawfully actually shows a Byway. Perhaps the Council are not quite of sure of their facts?
    So, what can you do? The aggrieved person or persons that submitted the recent ineffectual Section 130a form can now appeal to Magistrates Court the council’s refusal to complete their statutory duty. We would welcome such a measure and encourage the complainant to move to the next step. If the complainant and council are found correct the Bradley’s will remove all (unlawful) obstructions without delay once a court order is obtained.

    The Bradley’s are keen to remind users that until the Council tried inappropriate heavy handed enforcement that the land owners maintained the disputed route open to all non-motorised users, on a permissive basis, for all except council employees. That permission had to be withdrawn after the council’s ongoing illegal action. The Bradley’s would like to reopen permissive use but the Councils continued failure to acknowledge their errors makes this impossible at the current time.
    We remain happy to discuss the problem.
    Andy Dunlop

    http://www.gleam-uk.org/newsletters/Gleam%20Autumn%202015.pdf

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