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Fairfield 'Right of Way' Footpath

From Sarah Campbell

Monday, 2 July 2018

Similarly to Ginnelgate of 2010, residents of Fairfield Estate are up in arms regarding the rights to a pathway that has given access to the estate for over 40 years.

It leads off Palace House Road just after the railway bridge and cuts behind the Park View properties past Railway View to the garages at the edge of Fairfield.

Many residents have lived on the estate since it was built and have used this pathway ever since. It is used many times each day by parents from the estate and children as a safe footpath out of the estate to school which avoids the blind bend on Palace House Road.

In recent weeks, residents of one of the Railway View properties, have created a garden space and are now informing residents it is their land and, for now, they will grant access, but arguing that if a right of way application is submitted they will challenge it.

This is an established footpath, known to be ‘Fairfield Road’ and it is used frequently and regularly by people living in this area. Residents are organising a meeting to discuss the Right of Way and are busy collecting the evidence required to submit an application for a Right of Way, as well as requesting support from Fairfield councillors for their campaign.

If you have or do use this pathway, please consider obtaining an evidence form from Phil.Champion@calderdale.gov.uk who is the Rights of Way officer at Calderdale Council or contacting us at the e-mail address here for details of the meeting.  

Sarah Campbell and Patsi Guilfoyle from Friends of Fairfield Community group. friendsoffairfieldhx7@gmail.com

From Gwendoline Goddard

Monday, 2 July 2018

I recommend that straight away you contact Ramblers (both national office and local branch) and the Open Spaces Society. Both organisations have done a lot locally.  They will have advice and give support.

From Sarah Campbell

Monday, 2 July 2018

Thank you Gwendoline for your advice about contacting the Ramblers Association. Will definitely do so. Sarah 

From Mike S

Monday, 2 July 2018

If you go to the Calderdale maps website, the path is clearly marked as 'Path UM' and is shown with boundaries separating it from the Park View properties. However, the land boundary for the path stops at Railway View so it could be possible that this is not a public right of way and only rear access for Park View and Essex Street. Continuous use should give some rights, but it seems to be a problem that the Calderdale ROW people should be able to resolve.

From Ruth Walker-Cotton

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

I live at Park View and the deeds show that I own the land right upto the railway fence, and therefore “my part” of the footpath. So the delineation on the OS map isn’t showing what is public or private land. What is clear from the deeds and the land plans that go back many years is that the footpath was named Fairfield Road (which indicates to me it should lead to Fairfield) and that I am to keep it unobstructed. The earlier deeds actually mention that cattle should be allowed through! 

This path has been well used since way before we or the owners of Railway View moved in - it is a vital shortcut for people with heavy shopping, those who can’t walk easily up the hill, and a safer route for those with young children.  It is also one of the (ever decreasing) off road areas where children can move and play without fear of traffic.  I am totally in support of the campaign to keep this path open for all.

From Philip Marshall

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

 If evidence forms are sent to Calderdale in order to have it recognised as a legal public right of way; all I can say is best of luck with that. 

I am involved with a similar claim to which many people sent in evidence forms. 

The reply from Calderdale Highways 5 years ago said, "There is a substantial backlog of other similar applications which must be attended to first and it is envisioned it will be some considerable time before we are able to begin investigating t his application."

So, expect not to be able to use this footpath as of right for many years. There is also a cut off time (2026), when no new claims for rights of way can be pursued. 

Whether Calderdale will get round to investigating its backlog before this date is open to question. I begin to wonder if the whole process isn't a futile waste of time.

From Bill Pullen

Thursday, 5 July 2018

It's unbelievable that after over 100 years they just threaten to close the path. I have been using it for over 20 years myself. I think it's a stupid idea to annoy most of Fairfield. We can make this into a public right of way, legally, and we should. Selfish and not very community spirited...

From Andy M

Friday, 6 July 2018

The 2026  'cut-off' date only affects rights of way claims based on historic evidence such as old maps/documents etc. You can still put in a claim based on  use of the path. However, given the parlous state of Calderdale's countryside and rights of way resources it may indeed take a long time to be dealt with. 

More info here

From Bill Pullen

Friday, 13 July 2018

Anyone know what when down at the 'friends of Fairfield stop the blockade' meeting last night? I couldn't make it. So much hassle and stress for so many people of 3 meters of a dirt track. Their silver van thing was blocking this morning for bikes, pushchairs/wheelchairs this morning. 

From Stella B

Saturday, 14 July 2018

To the Residents of Fairfield, we apologise for not understanding that the small cut through past Railway View is important to your lives in Hebden. We are thankful that you are now aware that this land is private property and that’s why, once blocked by neighbours cars for 18 months,  we created a garden space. Its a shame, that a letter we wrote to fully explain, was declined to be read out by the organisers of 'Friends of Fairfield'. I am sure you will agree that Alison, who did try to present elements of our letter,  did a sterling job in very difficult circumstances. 

From Stella B

Monday, 16 July 2018

 Rather than attend the meeting to which we were not invited, we requested a letter be read out on our behalf. This was denied by the organisers  of 'friends of Fairfield'. 

Here is the letter:    

Dear Friends of Fairfield 

We are not objecting to a ‘right of way’ that is reasonable and considerate: like keeping the garden area and having a footpath through.

However, before we moved here two neighbours had been in dispute, which resulted in the parking of a scrapped blue Corsa,  intended to deliberately block our access to Railway View. No-one locally seemed bothered by this or did anything to remove the unsightly obstacle.

We contacted everybody we could think of, Police, Local Councillors, highways, community police, anti social behaviour team and emergency services and NO ONE could do anything about the car blocking our access, because as it turns out, All of Railway View is privately owned land. 

Over a year later, the car was still there, with weeds growing around it, looking a complete eyesore.

We were so fed up with seeing the car we decided to buy planters and make the best of a bad situation. So we made an attractive garden area, whilst still allowing people to walk through. 

Then hey presto the blue Corsa moved! Phew how good is that we thought, at last its gone!!!!

A few weeks later a white van was moved to deliberately obstruct our access, yet again. It could have been parked near the railway fence, but no it had to be parked in the most obstructive way possible, across the footpath access.

Can you imagine the frustration at this point, to have a white van with a smashed windscreen blocking the way yet again? 

Nobody from Fairfield did anything to help, to remove the scrap car, that we had to look at every single day.So we put up three fence panels to block the ugly view, across half of the width.  

Then all hell broke loose with residents of Fairfield threatening us physically, shouting & swearing at us, saying that you will burn the fence down etc..We were amazed as nobody had approached or attacked or threatened the neighbour about the scrap car!!!

Once a right of way is established we hope you have more success than we have of moving the car/van. 

We also hope that through this process the rights and responsibilities of the council are clarified, which has not been the case so far. 

Many locals have thanked us for creating a beautiful garden and allowing enough space for pushchairs etc. We have appreciated the people who have respected our space by walking through quietly. 

As 'Friends of Fairfield' we would hope you are able to encourage positive communication and behaviours and actively discourage negative attitudes towards ALL members of the community and this includes us of course. 

From Julie Rose Clark

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Personally, I think it would be good if both the car and the planters were/are all removed and we return to exactly how it used to be when I moved into the area, ie, a road, (and path).

I did enquire about removal of the white van with the council but it wasn’t possible for them to interfere as the car was legally taxed and MOTed. It would also be great if the neighbours involved in the original dispute could forgive each other and live and let live and move on.

I believe harmony and peace is possible with this situation.

From David G

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

I am a resident of Fairfield and the tone so far used by Friends of Fairfield is counterproductive to say the least! Blockade?

Surely at this point Friends of Fairfield should be resolving conflict not creating it!

Personally, I don't want Railway View to be a road. I like that it's safe and I like the garden area's being created. Why not change it to 'save the garden & footpath' ? Cos it's so much better than weeds!

Let's be positive and proactive rather than negative and blaming.... 

From Joe L

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

I am becoming increasingly concerned by this situation and the way it is being handled. Whilst I understand people's concerns about the reduced access, and think that we have the right to ask the necessary questions about the proper situation regarding / use of this piece of land, I am really concerned about the tone of the case that seems to be being put across by 'Friends of Fairfield'. I actually find this name so ironic given the really hostile nature of some of the publicity associated with this issue and am deeply concerned by what seems to have become so personal(ly targeted) against the owners of the land/garden in a way that could be seen to be intentionally divisive? 

I found the tone of the flyer telling us about the meeting (the meeting itself being really interesting) extremely hostile and antagonistic, and not at all Friendly. I live in Hebden because I have always thought that it is a tolerant place where we don't all have to agree, but where we can live with our neighbours and accept each others' differences; this isn't what I have picked up from either the flyer, conversations with the 'leaders' of 'Friends of Fairfield' or from the meeting, and this worries me. 

I think that the use of the word 'blockade' is really inflammatory and apart from being totally unnecessary it is also inaccurate and therefore misleading. A blockade is most regularly defined as 'an act or means of sealing off a place, with soldiers or ships, to prevent goods or people from entering or leaving.' Not only is the use of this word highly inflammatory because of the politicalness of it, it also isn't true because we can still walk through?

I just don't think that using words like this is helpful and think that Friends of Fairfield might consider being less antagonistic, less bullying in their tone (ie with the flyer and at the meeting) and just generally more Friendly. That way we might actually be able to make some headway and start to have a sensible conversation about this issue. I am just really worried, given how this has been hyped up so far, where it might go from? 

From Sarah Campbell

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

‘Friends of Fairfield’ did not create a flyer/poster with the word blockade. The person who made these posters was trying to help and get word out about the meeting. This was discussed at the meeting held on Thursday 12th July. 

We made a number of flyers for residents of Fairfield that gave the date, time and meeting venue information. 

The purpose of the meeting was to provide information regarding how to apply for a right of way and to give out evidence forms as we were advised that a collective application would be the best way to apply for right of way status. 

The meeting was well attended including by our Fairfield Councillors and residents who live on Railway View and other roads leading to the footpath as well as residents from the Fairfield estate. 

We are interested in applying for a right of way – footpath that continues the use of the path that has been in regular use for the last 50 years and runs through Railway view and behind Park View to Palace House Road.

If anyone is interested in applying for this as a right of way then they should contact: Phil.Champion@calderdale.gov.uk.

For further information here is a copy of the flyer we used to publicise the ‘Friends of Fairfield’ meeting about a Right of Way application.

Fairfield meeting

From J Swift

Thursday, 19 July 2018

This isn't the first time that the people in question have tried to deter residents from using what is quite clearly a well established footpath.  Previously some spurious signs appeared claiming that Yorkshire Water were preventing access.  

Frankly, if you attempt to prevent people from exercising long held rights by underhand means, you should expect that there'll be consequences.

There's a principle at stake here, and it fits into a wider pattern of private interests trying to steal public goods.  Some here may think that's a matter for compromise.  I prefer the traditional Northern radical view, which is that if you give them  an inch, they'll take a mile.

Good on those standing up for their community's rights.

From P. Marshall

Thursday, 19 July 2018

It may be a well established footpath but as far as the law is concerned, unless this is registered as such on the Definitive Rights of Way map, then it has no legal status. "Exercising long held rights" does not make it a right of way in the legal sense.

To make it so, people can send in forms to Calderdale Council in order to prove usage. 

In my earlier post I said this will probably take many years before investigating begins, as the Council has a large backlog of similar cases and lack of resources to expedite them.

My claim for a very similar right of way has not even begun to be investigated after 5 years of presenting evidence to the Council.

From Caroline M

Thursday, 19 July 2018

If it helps to clarify - if the path is a right of way then it has legal status as such already. The point about evidence and getting it recorded is re cognition of its status it is not about creating its status. 

From Gary W

Friday, 20 July 2018

I grew up on Fairfield estate. I have clear memories of using this pathway in the early 1970s (being walked to the old Central St Infants School). It's been a very well used path throughout my life time, and probably predates the estate (which was built in 1968/69). It's disappointing to read that this stems from a neighbour dispute which has resulted in retaliatory action that punishes indiscriminately. It's an all too typical example of what happens when neighbourhood disputes get out of hand.