Baildon Town Council conducted a survey of Baildon`s urban paths over the summer of 2013. This included all snickets, ginnels, etc, rather than paths across open land. The Town Council’s Environmental Warden surveyed a total of 50 paths, with another 10 surveyed by members of the Town Council’s Walkers are Welcome group. Consideration was given to the following: the path’s surface condition; any obstructions caused by vegetation growing from the path’s surface; shrubbery overhanging from gardens; facilities such as lighting, litter bins and benches.
It was found that in general the surfaces were good – with some notable exceptions. The predominant problem was obstruction of paths by bushes, hedges, trees or brambles encroaching from gardens adjacent to paths. In the case of bridleways, particular attention is needed to the height of overhanging vegetation. Whilst seven feet is okay for walkers, a good few feet above this is required for someone on horseback.
The responsibility for keeping the paths reasonably clear of weed growth from the surface of the path is that of City of Bradford Metropolitan Council. Given the huge mileage of paths within its area it is potentially a very costly and time consuming issue. Bradford relies on information from members of the public to keep them informed of any obstructions. Any problems relating to a public footpath should be notified to Bradford Council via their call centre, tel. no: 01274 431000.
Responsibility for overhanging vegetation lies with the respective property owner. It would seem that many householders are not always aware of what goes on at the bottom of their garden. The Town Council’s Warden has come across many hedges that are neatly clipped on the garden side but considerably overgrown on the public footpath side. Shrubbery should be clipped close to the garden boundary with consideration to height as well. A footpath should not be `just passable`, but should be easily passable without getting scratched by twigs or soaked from wet privet, etc. Bradford Council has the right to carry out work to clear shrubbery that overhangs from gardens and then to charge the householder for the work. This would never be done without giving a householder ample opportunity to sort it out for themselves.
To assist Bradford with its task of keeping paths in a decent condition, Baildon Town Council has provided some funding for those Baildon paths which have been identified as needing urgent attention. One such path, repaired early in 2013, was the one from West Lane to Belmont Rise. A section near to the top constantly had deep mud in winter and summer. This has been resolved by resurfacing with road planings.
This path continues from Belmont Rise/Alder Carr to the access road to Hope Farm and the bridleway onto the moor top. A section of this is equally muddy and is earmarked for repair, with £2,000 to be provided by Baildon Town Council. This funding will also go towards the replacement of the stile at the top of the path – it’s an odd stile to suit an awkward situation and feels a little insecure to cross. The woodwork is now showing a bit of rot and needs replacement before it becomes unsafe. This path is part of a very direct off-road route from Baildon Green to the top of Baildon Hill and is a very attractive option for walkers.
Already earmarked for Town Council funding in the next financial year is the Ladderbanks bridleway, giving access from upper Baildon to Tong Park and beyond. Sections of this path are eroded into a V-shaped section, making it difficult to walk on.
Bradford Council has now introduced a new and much-improved map of paths on its website. It is very interesting and detailed, though a little experimentation is needed to work out all its interactive possibilities. It can be accessed via the following link:
Mark Scrimshaw, Environmental Warden