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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. 

From Lisa A

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Hello friends of Fairfield, Hebden Bridge and beyond!

Part transcript of poster:

The route commonly known by locals as the ‘Fairfield Road’ leads off Palace House Road just after the railway bridge, cuts behind the Park View properties and past the Railway View properties to the garages at the bottom edge of Fairfield.

The route has offered safe and accessible passage to the community for 40 years and is used daily by parents and children walking to school and back to avoid the blind bend on Palace House Road.

Residents are holding a meeting to discuss the situation and collect the evidence required to submit an application for a Right of Way. If you have or do use the footpath please consider attending to show your support and complete an evidence form.

Stop the blockade!

There is no hostile, negative or threatening language or tone used or implied. 

I can assure you that the owners of the property told me themselves that they were planning to permanently cut off access with a locked gate as the fence panels were being erected and that they were only granting access ‘for now’; this can be confirmed by the residents of York St. who were informed of the plan in writing and the many signs that were put up outside the property but have since been removed.
Anyone taking umbrage with the word ‘Blockade’ I suggest reading the full definition of the word ‘Blockade’ including the origin.

1 the isolating, closing off, or surrounding of a place, as a port, harbor, or city, by hostile ships or troops to prevent entrance or exit.
2 any obstruction of passage or progress: We had difficulty in getting through the blockade of bodyguards.
3 Pathology. interruption or inhibition of a normal physiological signal, as a nerve impulse or a heart muscle–contraction impulse.
—verb (used with object), block·ad·ed, block·ad·ing.
1 to subject to a blockade.
Origin: 1670–80; block (in the sense “to create obstacles”)

I hope everyone has managed to hand in their evidence forms today. I am so happy we are preserving this much loved footpath for future generations. 

Yours cheerfully,

From Toby R

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Here are the facts: 

Having our address posted on a flyer contravenes the Data Protection Act. We have let this go but I request that these posters are removed. Disappointingly, I discovered 3 the other day by the school.  

Especially as:

  1. We have apologised for not understanding the importance of the cut through in a previous post with no recognition from Friends of Fairfield?
  2. We paid for half the room costs for the meeting at Hope Baptist church
  3. Friends of Fairfield denied the community the opportunity to hear us out at the meeting, thankfully we have been able to post this on HebWeb.
  4. We have stated that we are in support of a claim for a legally established right of way, as this will bring clarity to walking through the garden areas
  5. We have daily comments from residents of Fairfield about the beauty of the garden area, and how much they enjoy walking past
  6. The planters and fence panels have been placed in such a way that residents are able to walk through
    1. The white van is blocking the way for us and for you, due to a dispute between two other neighbours
  7. Due to the inability of all to remove the vehicle, we responded  by creating a garden area and hiding the car with fence panels.
  8. We chose to live in Fairfield because we both grew up on poor working class council estates (my family still live there) and felt more comfortable with the 'northern grit' side of the valley. We hope to have many happy years here chatting to passerby's and enjoying our beautiful garden space. 

There is really nothing more that we can do to resolve this situation. It would be nice if Friends of Fairfield could have some humility in this situation and seek to build bridges as we have done. 

p.s  See previous post: Yorkshire Water put up the Yorkshire Water sign, not us.

From David G

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

I am knowledgeable about Rights of Way:

Just a quick note to say that:

There is not yet a legally established footpath or 'right of way across' Railway View. This is what your application is for.

As such you may pass only with the consent of the owners of the land.

The land is private and even when a public footpath is established will still be privately owned, because the land is bought and sold with the house.

People in this circumstance are within their rights to put up a fence across the whole path.(This would only need to be removed when a public right of way is established).

I have been in email contact with Phil at Calderdale Rights of way, and he has confirmed this to be the case. 

This process may take years as previously suggested and the owners could if they wished have a private garden in the meantime, but they have clearly agreed to compromise by having a garden area and to allow continued access. 

So I would like to say 'Thank you' to the residents of Railway View for listening to the the public, acting appropriately, and I wish them a happy future in Fairfield.

From Caroline M

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

I would just like to re- state that if there is a right of way then it already has that legal status and people using it are doing so of right not requiring consent of landowners or anyone else. The question now is recognition of whether it is a right of way, not a question of creating a legal right. It's an odd thing but that is how it is.

From Toby R

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Today I asked the person walking through our garden to remove the ‘posters’ she had put up which had our address on it. She refused and suggested that we should get the police involved! So instead we found and removed the ‘posters’ ourselves as it is an invasion of privacy and contravenes the data protection act. 

Then we found more flyers from Friends of Fairfield who refused our letter to be read out at the meeting, clearly advertised as to 'discuss' the right of way and have failed to acknowledge positive actions from us in the meantime. So we took those flyers down, call it ‘northern grit’ or just totally fed up! 

By now it is dark. But we (2 females) are then closely followed by a tall single male, along two dark streets. We walked a little faster as we were scared. Thankfully there was another man further up the street on Palace House Road, which meant I could turn round and look at who was following us. 

It turns out it is the same man who tore down our posters, threw a fence panel to the floor, threatened and shouted at us about the footpath etc. This behaviour and intimidation needs to stop, this is about a footpath! The level of ‘outrage’ is out of proportion with the issue at hand. There is a legal process in place to deal with it, for the good of all. 

Please note we will no longer make our selves available to talk about this issue or respond to this thread.

From Stella B

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Caroline: perhaps your understanding could be checked via the Calderdale rights of way officer? He seems to state differently, and I’m guessing he is more likely to be correct? 

We are targets every day for abuse, hostility, glares and arguements from people on Fairfield. We are being bullied and harassed, something I don't say lightly, despite our apology and attempt to communicate at the town meeting.  Well done!

Yesterday we asked politely if the old flyers with our details on, contravening data protection laws, could be removed. We were told "no and there are more posted up".

So we went to take them down,  and yes, petty as it is, we took down  a few of your flyers. Welcome, in a very minute way,  to our world: You make an effort and someone doesn't like it. The difference being you can sit in your homes and gardens without fear of what someone will do next. So yes, I'm sick of it. Including being followed by the 6 foot tall guy last night, who has already damaged things in our garden and came very close to punching one of us (a 5' 2” woman) outside our front door.

All this is happening, yet we have supported the application for the footpath and have left a footpath available in front of our home, despite the aggression we experience from you en-masse. We have been told by some of you the abuse is our fault ...an excuse you hear from perpetrators of violence about their victims all the time. 

From Caroline M

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Stella - I am the partner of the Calderdale rights of way officer....and although he never discusses specific cases he has bent my ear over many years about law relating to rights of way. That he is not jumping up and down right now suggests to me my understanding is correct.

From Adrian Riley

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Caroline M -- You say "If there is a right of way". The word "if" being the operable word. The phrase may be common parlance but has no meaning if passage is prevented and the way does not appear on the Definitive Map. To gain a legal "right", evidence forms must be submitted to Calderdale. 

I understand your frustration, as many similar ways have been stopped despite a lifetime of use but unless the above procedure is followed "rights" cut no mustard whatsoever. 

It may take years for Calderdale to start examining the evidence. Similar claims are just as frustrating but I'm afraid your case will have to join the queue. 

You can always write to your Councillor and complain about the lack of urgency and pressure on Officer time. This is the real problem and is a denial of justice if delay means "sometime never".

From Tim B

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Adrian, you appear to have slightly misunderstood that the process people are filling in the forms for is to record an existing public right of way i.e. when the evidence is investigated, if a PRoW is shown to exist, it will be recorded on the Definitive Map.  The argument being the the legal right already exists.  Caroline's post of 25th July is correct.

The quickest way to get a decision made on an application is to write to the Secretary of State if a year has passed since the application.

From Caroline M

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Hopefully a last time:  if there is a public right of way (so if conditions prior to its being called into dispute by landowners mean that it has gained or been given that status) it already has that legal status. That is simply how it is.  

Until its status is recognised by evidence - whichever way that turns out to be - then we cannot confidently say what the status is. The 'claim' is for the definitive map to be modified to record something which exists but has not yet been recorded on it.

And if it is a public right of way then people are now using it if right. That does not mean that its status is not already there either as or as not a public right of way. In the same way there either is or is not a sock under my bed - I do not know whether it's there till I check, but I do not conjure it into existence by checking.   

From Debbie B

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Thank you Caroline, for clarifying the situation, the law is very complicated and this situation may take years to finally be resolved. 

I would urge 'Friends of Fairfield' to make a public apology for the obvious distress they are causing. 

There has been some other posts from a few years ago which point out the negatives of living in a small community, there has also been a documentary about suicide rates in the valley. People are living close to the edge on many levels and seemingly small things can tip the scales. 

This issue and the re-action to the footpath, seems to be indicative of a wider problem in Hebden Bridge. The intolerance and gang mentality which drive people into exclusion rather than inclusion. It appears to be from the outside that Hebden is a tolerant community but it has a reputation for dis-liking people coming in from the 'outside', coming in with their fancy ideas, changing things. 

I am wondering how many people are unhappy in the valley due to this isolation? Maybe its true then that the old timers here dont want new comers? Please remember though, that the children of Hebden Bridge who have left the valley are themselves new comers to a different community. How would you like your children to be treated when they move to a new area?

Remember, the poor chap at Eastwood recycling centre? He was treated in a way which led to him destroying the porta cabin and then went to prison for it. He was an otherwise decent ordinary bloke pushed to the limit due in part to a customer complaint the day before!

I suppose it is also indicative of a wider society which sees conflict as a way of life and as reconcilliation as a weakness.

I had lived in Fairfield for almost 20 years until recently and am very happy to have moved away from the petty squabbles which became a constant and depressing feature on the estate. 

I would suggest a community reconcilliation effort by Friends of Fairfield, as a way forward. If they are unable to do that, then their intention is clear, to keep the angst flowing and the isolation intact.

From Martin P

Thursday, 26 July 2018

In the past 24 hours we have heard that the residents in question have had 'daily comments from residents of Fairfield about the beauty of the garden area, and how much they enjoy walking past'

Then the following day quite a different story..

'We are targets every day for abuse, hostility, glares and arguments from people on Fairfield. We are being bullied and harassed'

I would strongly suggest they speak to the police if they are being harrassed in any way. 

The issues have been well and truly covered in this thread so it is now closed to further contributions - Ed