Calderdale sanitisation – blue pig update

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  • Calderdale sanitisation – blue pig update
  • Dave
    Member

    Nice one Chris :o)

    I’m sorry to hear that the work which has been done on the Heptenstall Bridleway has discouraged you and your mountain biking colleagues from visiting our region to ride your bikes and support our local economy

    Really?

    Premier Icon Pook
    Subscriber

    Really?

    I don’t fancy going up if the trails are going to be turned into that kind of stuff, no.

    And surely any argument which would prevent this level of trail sanitisation is a good thing anyway?

    Premier Icon Clover
    Subscriber

    I have emailed Katie Kinsella direct as I have a business in Hebden and we value all our customers! Will also raise it with cafe owners as they sell lots of cake to cyclists.

    Mugboo
    Member

    Sounds like the Peaks are suffering too.

    As asked on the other thread. Which organisation is going to step up to the plate and give us something to rally behind?

    Premier Icon Pook
    Subscriber

    IMBA UK?

    Dunno.

    Premier Icon Simon
    Subscriber

    Unlikely.

    Premier Icon Pook
    Subscriber

    Following my email to the highways dept, which I cc’d the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism dept of Calderdale into, I’ve had the reply below from the Calderdale Chamber.

    Dear Chris,

    Thank you for sending me a copy of your email to Calderdale Highways Department.

    Tourism is of great importance to Calderdale, and I’m sorry to hear that the work which has been done on the Heptenstall Bridleway has discouraged you and your mountain biking colleagues from visiting our region to ride your bikes and support our local economy.

    For that reason I have passed a copy of your email to Katie Kinsella , the Principal Tourist officer at Calderdale Council, who has said she will look into the matter.

    I hope that in due course you’ll have the chance to resume visiting Calderdale to enjoy our beautiful countryside.

    Good luck, and stay safe on your bike.

    Regards,

    Steven Leigh

    Head of Policy and Representation

    Pretty good I think as a start and just a thought – when raising an issue with trail sanitisation, it might be worth cc’ing in local business groups and the tourism department. I was tempted to cc Blazing Saddles and a few pubs and cafes too, but didn’t have the time!

    Mugboo
    Member

    Potentially a letter to CTC / BC. Feel free to critique/spellcheck, sort out the facts, add weight to…

    Right now in Sheffield a great bridleway is being ruined to satisfy a 4×4 driver but nobody else. In Calderdale a much loved bridleway near Heptonstall is being filled in to please god knows who?

    The government is cooking up a new law to further restrict access to green spaces. 

    Mountain bikers need a voice, an organisation to rally behind. They are reticent when it comes to action but these issues are happening all over the country right now and may be your chance to help empower them to help themselves.
    Only this week a small group of Sheffield riders have risen up and asked serious questions of the perpetrators of said bridleway destruction and hopefully shown that a small active group  can flex their collective muscles and at the very least rattle a few people.

    Imagine if the objections came from a long founded organisation like CTC or BC. 

    I have not joined either of you and will not until you become a serious, political force. 
     Mountain biking is growing each year and the more bridleways are ‘improved’, the more riders will look to footpaths for their kicks. This will naturally lead to more problems which truthfully can only be sorted with better access and a high profile re education of the public/walkers understanding of the lack of damage we do.

    Riders and walkers should be working together to improve local trails for all.

    big_n_daft
    Member

    Nationally CTC is the best organisation, BC need to continue to ensure their funding stream and will not be a real voice for their members on these issues

    Locally, mobilise, get a constitution and get a seat on the Local Access Forum. Remamber not to bite when the donkey wallopers try to wind you up.

    What Mugboo said, we need an organisation to speak on our behalf. CTC etc aren’t any good – we need someone who can help safeguard the natural terrain we have to ride on instead of turning into rural motorways like Blue Pig.

    Sorry Pook but your comment made me smile. If people are going to stop coming to Hebden to ride because 100m of one bridleway has had some gravel thrown down it then more fool them.

    I’ve offered my assistance on Ride Calderdale’s facebook page to help in any way I can (but I’m not going to get all theatrical about it 😉 ).

    Oh, and Sheffield seems to have Ride Sheffield. Active on social media etc, seem to have a good following outside of Sheffield etc promoting the riding around the area for what? They don’t get a wage from it etc.

    Maybe we need something similar around here to liase with the council, land owners etc and look to not only keep the character of trails that do need work on them but maybe even develop new purpose built stuff like Lee Quarry, all these little projects Architrail etc are involved with…

    Premier Icon Pook
    Subscriber

    Sorry Pook but your comment made me smile.

    Why do I get the impression you’re not actually sorry? And what indeed do you feel you need to be sorry for?

    If I had folks from 40 miles away trying to prevent my local trails being sanitised, I’d be a little more appreciative. As you point out, there’s no local campaign group so it seems your trails need every defender they can get if this is the approach the highways folks are going to take. More fool me you say? It’s your trails getting buried.

    B.A.Nana
    Member

    PMBA are the Lancs equiv of ride sheffield i would presume. not sure that either are anyway geared up for this sort of challenge tho. ride sheffield as a group haven;t had any involvement in the stanage sanitation issue for example, not quite sure why they would be held up as some mtb white knight solution. CTC are starting to get more involved in mtb issues, but it’s going to take years of evolution to get centrally organised to levels of ramblers/BMC etc. small dispersed groups aren’t the answer IMO, longterm.

    Premier Icon zippykona
    Subscriber

    I can’t believe none of the mags are running with this subject. It’s a problem countrywide.
    Have the anti bike brigade finally found a way to get rid of us?

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Complaint letter received, pass to the left to somebody who can sympathise but has no idea who actually does path works etc…

    Looks more like a polite fob off which seems to have worked.

    The route forward as discussed above would be to get organised and potentially get somebody onto the path fixing committee to at least get sight of the plans and to represent mtb. They would however need to be level headed enough to understand that “Leave it all as it is” might not be an option.

    Why do I get the impression you’re not actually sorry? And what indeed do you feel you need to be sorry for?

    Sorry for smiling about what I thought was a massively dramatic, OTT comment about not coming to Calderdale ever again because of the aforementioned gravel. Which it seems you actually meant.

    If I had folks from 40 miles away trying to prevent my local trails being sanitised, I’d be a little more appreciative. As you point out, there’s no local campaign group so it seems your trails need every defender they can get if this is the approach the highways folks are going to take. More fool me you say? It’s your trails getting buried.

    We do need all the help we can get and I do appreciate it, as I’m sure many other Calderdale residents do. Unfortunately I believe a lot of it will fall on deaf ears at our local council who view this kind of work on BWs as positive. Theres a section of BW on the other side of the valley from my house which is absolutely brilliant and on a whole other level compared to this short section of Blue Pig (we’re talking maybe 500/600m of downhill singletrack). Each year for the last 4 or 5 years, Calderdale Council have ‘fixed’ it by tipping tonnes of this same gravel stuff down it. After a few days of rain, its piled up at the bottom again by the railway line. And yet, the highways dept or whoever it is that sanctions and carries out this work carries on, year after year.

    A body, such as Ride Calderdale (I won’t sue them for using the name of my (old) blog) needs to open dialogue with whoever it is at the council who oversees this kind of work and say “ok, if any work is planned on any of these bridleways, can we, as a major user of routes around Hebden/Calderdale, be informed so we can look at a good way of preserving the character of the trail whilst maintaining it”.

    The council need to know its the character and quality of the trails that bring people to the area and if they keep steam rollering stuff in the way they have with Blue Pig, and a few years ago, the Slack Zig Zags, people will just bypass the area.

    Unfortunately, as mikewsmith says, the response to your email just looks like a fobbing off by someone who has no idea about mountain biking and our requirements.

    Personally, I’m going to be writing a mail to cbr@calderdale.gov.uk – thats some kind of cycling leisure team at Calderdale Council. I’d hope they might actually be made of up of cyclists who can talk to the highways people and get people talking.

    I’m afraid I suspect a group of mountain bikers mailing the highways team directly (who’ll be fat men who drink coffee and eat biscuits all day and now and again have to wear a hi viz vest to conduct site visits) will feature on their priority list somewhere just above cleaning the bogs.

    I’d love to be proved wrong but I suggest people mail cbr@calderdale.gov.uk

    bigrich
    Member

    work which has been done on the Heptenstall Bridleway has discouraged you and your mountain biking colleagues from visiting our region to ride your bikes

    there’s only one trail in Calderdale? sounds shit.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Also why stop at the council? This should be your focus for a loner lasting solution

    Calder Valley constituency
    Name
    Craig Whittaker MP
    Address
    Calderdale & Kirklees CC HQ
    16a Church Lane
    Brighouse HD6 1AT
    E-mail
    craig.whittaker.mp@parliament.uk
    Telephone
    01484 717959.

    http://www.conservatives.com/People/Members_of_Parliament/Whittaker_Craig.aspx
    Now if you can all bring yourselves to speak politely to a tory….

    Make the case that Mountain Biking has a good heritage an role to play in the continued development of the area and that it puts his area on the map as an outstanding place to visit and live. Perhaps organise a tour of ST Towers (maybe not until they tidy up a bit) to show how mountain biking employs locals. Offer to take him and or his kids out for a ride and show what we are on about.

    Edit#

    Each year for the last 4 or 5 years, Calderdale Council have ‘fixed’ it by tipping tonnes of this same gravel stuff down it. After a few days of rain, its piled up at the bottom again by the railway line. And yet, the highways dept or whoever it is that sanctions and carries out this work carries on, year after year.

    Would also be worth pointing out how bad/misdirected maintenance actually wastes money. If what is going on above is true it’s a shocking waste of money that could be spent on other things.

    Premier Icon Pook
    Subscriber

    “The council need to know its the character and
    quality of the trails that bring people to the area
    and if they keep steam rollering stuff in the way
    they have with Blue Pig, and a few years ago,
    the Slack Zig Zags, people will just bypass the
    area.”

    Pretty much exactly what I suggested then when I was being ‘over dramatic’?

    hora
    Member

    Money into the local economy?

    Seen the prices? Buying a drink is ok but its pricy for food. Mooch used to do a nice Tuna melt. Until they reduced its size to a sarnie…at £6.50 still!

    The newly refurbed pub -how busy is Hebden in the evenings?

    Premier Icon stumpyjon
    Subscriber

    There are things we can do and PMBA is trying to get behind this sort of thing. One of the mosr practical things we can do is carry out smaller more sympathetic repairs before the council feel the need to empty the local quarry onto the trail. Bill Brady, PBW ranger is desperate for help to repair sections of the Mary Townley loop before Calderdale feel the need to step in. More details at http://www.pmba.org.uk/news.htm

    In the mean time PMBA has been quietly working with Lancs CC to get bridleways upgraded sympathetically, Rolling Boar routes and a new section of PBW feeder partly funded by PMBA. There’s also emails flying about behind the scenes across Calderdale at the moment involving quite a few different organisations including members of the Singletracl team (who have already helped by kicking this all off inthe first place). What’s missing is the support from the riders ourselves, responding on an internet forum or Facebook is a start but ultimately it’s shovels in the ground that will count. If we can show we’re capable of BW manintenaince by supporting people like Bill and Tony Lund we might just be able to get a say in how future money is spent.

    globalti
    Member

    Pretty good I think as a start and just a thought – when raising an issue with trail sanitisation, it might be worth cc’ing in local business groups and the tourism department. I was tempted to cc Blazing Saddles and a few pubs and cafes too, but didn’t have the time!

    You accept an obvious brush-off as “pretty good”? What do you suggest Calderdale do about it, go and dig up the surface for you?

    Sorry to say this but mountain bikers have got their heads inserted so far up their bottoms that the issue has been blown out of all proportion. Local authorities have a statutory duty to maintain bridleways; if they don’t some horse riding or rambling group, who are far better organised and connected than cyclists, will be down on them in the courts or sueing the backsides off them after an accident. Anybody who has been cycling for long enough will know that the first serious summer rain will wash that lot away and within a few months you’ll be happily dialling it and congratulating yourselves again. There is a similar wahalla going on over the causeway below Stanage Edge; that will also get washed away.

    Anybody remember Robin Hood’s Well down off Holcombe Hill to Haslingden? It used to be a deep hollow way filled with rubble; it cost hundreds of thousands in repairs until they did it properly with stone setts and decent drainage.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    Globalti that is a lot people’s points though, it’s not suitable for all users. Gravel for horses is not good it gets caught in their hooves causing issues. Then as you say yourself there’s the issue of it getting washed away proving what a waste of money and maintenance it is, again one many issues pointed out.

    grum
    Member

    Why are some folks getting at all the other people making basically the same points? I’m sure all this pointless bickering is part of the reason mountain bikers don’t have a voice on these issues. 😕

    B.A.Nana
    Member

    Stumpyjon makes a pertinent point, a lot of hoo-har at the keyboard from MTBers every time there’s something done(or not done) which they don’t like, but when called to arms, they’re all washing their hair that weekend.
    Don’t know why it is, possibly a reflection on modern society, but MTBers appear not to want to get involved beyond writing the odd angry letter.
    I’m as guilty as anyone else, we’re having problems with our local ‘Friends of….society’, by rights I should be going to their meetings to argue our case, but I can’t be arsed sitting down with a load of twee nimbys.

    Pretty much exactly what I suggested then when I was being ‘over dramatic’?

    No, I was saying that if they keep on doing it. You’re saying you’re not coming because they’ve flattened a very short section of one trail.

    globalti/B.A.Nana, agree totally. I’ve said a load of times before I’m happy to help out in whatever way I can but with work, 2 young kids etc its a balancing act which I can’t devote a load of time to but I can devote some…

    Mugboo
    Member

    Is there a definitive plan that the ramblers followed to give themselves their current influence?

    As Stumpyjon points out there seems to be two obvious strands.

    1. Active campaigning, something easily acheived from your keyboard (should be very popular in here), but still needs a body to organise and give weight and direction.

    2. God forbid, getting of our arses and lifting a shovel. The bodies already exist for this locally in the form of PMBA, SingletrAction & Ride Sheffield. These could affiliate to the body above as the local ‘on the ground’ experts.

    Even joining your nearest Friends of …. Woods as a mountain bike representive would be a start if you can remain calm in the face of narrow minded old codgerness!

    Or plan B, carry on moaning while our money is wasted on ineffective repairs that please almost nobody.

    Ultimately, once this amazing new Ramblers on Wheels Association has gained credence they can then start on access laws..

    grum
    Member

    DBW – from Pook’s email:

    The work that’s been done to Blue Pig has put me off organising any future trips to the area. I fear when I arrive other local trails will be similarly sanitised and speaking to mountain biking friends that feeling is echoed

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable
    Subscriber

    Surely the best solution is to keep drawing local council’s attention to the stuff that everyone wants fixing – the track you probably go out of your way to avoid on a ride, but would link to some good stuff if only it gave you a solid surface to ride on instead of a quaking morass, or wasn’t blocked up by fallen trees or flytipping.

    From what little I’ve seen of Local Access Forums, no single user group is directly able to influence what the money gets spent on – not the Ramblers, not the TRF, not the BHS. It’s more a case of the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

    Keep nagging them to fix the sh!te stuff and that’s where the money will be spent.

    It’s really easy to do (you can even report poor condition BWs on your phone via fixmystreet) and a lot of separate voices might actually have more impact than one unified front (which probably isn’t going to happen anyway).

    Premier Icon The Pinkster
    Subscriber

    Mugboo – two questions

    The government is cooking up a new law to further restrict access to green spaces.

    Do you have any evidence of this? if you can provide and references to it, e.g. the proposal it is being brought under in parliament it would be helpful for anyone wanting to protest

    Imagine if the objections came from a long founded organisation like CTC or BC.

    I have not joined either of you and will not until you become a serious, political force. Why do you believe that the CTC is not a serious political force? Their campaigning for road & transport issues has had impact within politics and the transport industry for years and they have representatives on various Government commissioned panels. Surely the best way of getting an organisation such as the CTC to take MTBing seriously and support it is to join them and make your feeling known as a member. The more mountain bikers do this the more they’re likely to listen. Standing on the outside and shouting that you won’t join until they do something will have no impact at all.

    grum
    Member

    Do you have any evidence of this? if you can provide and references to it, e.g. the proposal it is being brought under in parliament it would be helpful for anyone wanting to protest

    http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2013/04/30/kate-ashbrook-warns-kinder-meeting-of-plans-for-new-criminal-trespass-law

    Premier Icon unklehomered
    Subscriber

    😆

    Bill Brady, PBW ranger is desperate for help to repair sections of the Mary Townley loop before Calderdale feel the need to step in.

    This bit is the potential saviour, but needs man hours of those who care. I may well pitch in when one morning when staying with a friend but at the end of the day I don’t live locally. If (not saying they have to but IF) local business want to help they could, may pitch in a pay for a little bit of labour to help Bill. Or put posters up if Ride Calderdale organise volunteer days. This is a way right into the centre of PROW maintenance and the local authority.

    Pook’s letter is an issue letter, of course it’s going to be a little dramatic. 🙄

    When Calderdale gets a reputation for this sort of trail sanitisation it could mean that when weighing up where to travel to from a distance away our group may, when considering all the variables, more often consider going to a different place where we’re more sure we can find oh god kill me now what the **** are you getting at

    Councils get hundreds of complaints a day and to get your taken seriously it needs to be upfront and clear, I thought the letter a good one.

    No, one trail won’t stop you coming to calderdale, but if one incident becomes a trend you will start to think it might not be worth the risk, as the original article says Blue Pig is a two part trail, and part of a pretty standard informal loop if doing a 2/3 hour ride in the area. BY the time it becomes a trend its too late, and those of us who ride there often have lost another great trail.

    There is a willing, keen, desperate by the sounds of it advocate, just waiting to help you in Ranger Bill, and that’s more than most of us have. Calderdale could actually set up the go-to model for other councils here.

    Premier Icon The Pinkster
    Subscriber

    Thanks grum.

    Premier Icon Metasequoia
    Subscriber

    I fear people are missing the point here, it’s not a suitable way to maintain a bridleway; any bridleway. Calling it ‘Blue Pig’ and a ‘trail’, will lead any authorities believe that we are a minority group complaining trying to protect the narrow interests of mountain bikers.

    We need to be advocates of sustainable bridleway maintenance using materials and methods suitable for Calderdale, for all users, on wheels, hooves or feet.

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable
    Subscriber

    I’ve not ridden the Gap route in the Brecons since I heard about the rock steps being smoothed over. That route is actually promoted by the tourism board to bring visitors into the area. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    Is there a definitive plan that the ramblers followed to give themselves their current influence?

    Yeah, they have a national organisation with 70,000 odd subscription-paying members based around local clubs and funding a large – 40-odd from memory – professional staff backed up by motivated volunteers at local level [clue: ‘young’ ramblers groups have an upper age limit of 40 so standard issue ramblers are often retired with lots of time on their hands].

    They’ve been going for years. Their focus has always been on Rights of Way and the right to roam in particular, which means the CROW Act puts them in an interesting position as they’ve lost their main focus and are now somewhat reduced to fighting minor skirmishes over stuff like that linked news thing above.

    Oh, and they have history and recognition which gives them credibility when it comes to dealing with local authorities etc.

    Mountain biking, by contrast, is a relatively young sport. It’s not focussed on clubs in the way that older sports are. Many of the participants are relatively young with lots in their lives beyond riding bikes.

    If a representative organisation existed it would need proper, solid, reliable finance, which generally means members need some sort of obvious benefits in return. Organisations like the Ramblers and the BMC offer stuff like discount at retailers, a regular magazine, free red darning wool, third-party liability insurance in the case of the BMC plus the less tangible benefits of representation

    BMC membership is just under 30 quid a year, don’t know about the Ramblers. So with 70,000 members, the BMC for one, has a basic annual income of around £2m per year plus any grants they receive, bequests etc and profits from their online shopping business where they sell maps, publications, DVDs etc. They have a full-time staff of, I think, 29 people plus local volunteers again.

    If you want something on that sort of scale, you have to pay for it and you need a lot of members. But the club-based infrastructure that propped up the BMC initially, doesn’t exist for mountain biking and the BMC has had to work hard to expand individual memberships in a web-focussed world where people again, don’t necessarily need to join clubs to find partners and expertise.

    And you could have all that and still have no guarantee that a local council won’t, without consultation, pour gravel over your favourite local trails. The thing at Stanage, as I understand it, is courtesy of Derbyshire County Council rather than the Peak Park, who tend to be a bit more sympathetic.

    And the issue at Stanage isn’t just the surface, it’s about creating something that’s appropriate to the surrounding area and the destruction of the ancient foundations under the causeway in the process.

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable
    Subscriber

    Why is everyone assuming that the Ramblers, the BHS, etc are the key influence on where the RoW budget gets spent?

    From what I’ve seen, RoW departments are more like a headless chicken in charge of a dumper truck full of gravel.

    mafiafish
    Member

    From what I’ve seen, RoW departments are more like a headless chicken in charge of a dumper truck full of gravel.

    +1
    We had one that made us and our neigbour rip open sections in four fences and two drystone walls to open up 100 yards of path that hadn’t been used since the little water mill closed in 1948.

    Premier Icon unklehomered
    Subscriber

    From what I’ve seen, RoW departments are more like a headless chicken in charge of a dumper truck full of gravel.

    + another 1
    The most recent one round me was done without consultation of the AONB or the National Park (lay on the border between the two).

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