Our AGM is a yearly meeting that is a requirement for us as a constituted group, but also a really good time to chat about what we have been up to over the year. Usually we hold our meetings in a pub, where we can drink our fill and talk bikes and projects….This year though, with everything that has been going on with Covid, it had to be an online Zoom meeting!!
If you have not had the pleasure (I use the term very loosely) of an online meeting, they are possibly one of the most awkward social gatherings you can have. I am not a huge tech fan, and prefer to ride my bike, hand write lists and notes and speak to people face to face. But with the global pandemic, lockdown 2 and all the pubs being closed, it was over to Zoom.
The meeting kicked of with the formalities of a constituted group, and the appointment of our 3 key members of the group. The positions of chair and treasurer have remained the same, with myself (Gordon McMinn) continuing to act as chair, and Mal Gibb as treasurer. Liam Raby has stepped down as secretary due to family and work commitments, and has been replaced by Stu Davies.
One point that wasn’t raised was that Tim Bailey has also joined the committee, so I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Stu and Tim to their new positions. The full committee is now made up of 10 members:
|Chair: Gordon McMinn||Treasurer: Mal Gibb|
|Secretary: Stu Davies||Committee member: Andy Bampton|
|Committee member: Bob Hedley||Committee member: James Smith|
|Committee member: Liam Raby||Committee member: Mat Melia|
|Committee member: Rik Legge||Committee member: Tim Bailey|
The treasurer’s report was a brief section of the meeting, purely because we don’t have any money. However, Mal is in the process of spending several hours trying to organise a meeting with a bank to set up a community group account. At the moment Barclays is the only bank offering this type of account to non customers. As soon as we can get an account, the committee will be looking at funding streams to develop trails and run projects.
We then moved the meeting on to some of the things that Ride Kirklees have been working on. Covid has put a stop to a lot of the work that we had planned, but also gave us a chance to write a proposal to the council setting out our plans to develop a number of purpose built trails in the area.
Drivetrain Bike Hubs
The largest of the projects in the proposal is Dewsbury Country Park bike hub. This is a large, long term project which will see the creation of a mixture of trails (Green, blue, red and black) a pump track, a jump line and a cafe, shop and visitor centre.
The park ranger is in the process of applying for funding to get the project up and running. Unfortunately, Ride Kirklees were unsuccessful in getting any funding through the British Cycling “places to ride” scheme. On a plus note, I was approached by a company carrying out a consultation for Kirklees Council to look at ways of revamping the town. There is a potential £25 million available to make improvements to Dewsbury, and the bike park/hub has been included as one of the potential projects.
Caulms wood in Dewsbury is another potential place for the development of a trail. Ride Kirklees was approached by the Friends of Caulms wood to help design and build a red trail in the woods as well as a pump track. 3 pump track designs have been submitted to the Friends of group, and an online consultation has been carried out and a design chosen.
Clearance of the site was started (pre lockdown 2) by Kummon y’all youth group, and they are planning on going back in to clear the rest of the area for the pump track when restrictions are lifted. When the site is cleared, we have permission to begin digging out ready for the build. It will be a dirt track to begin with, and if it proves popular with the local community, will later be stoned up as a permanent facility. The long term plan for the wood is to then develop a red trail through the woods, giving riders a challenging route which should help to leave the Kirklees Way footpath free for walkers.
Park Mills Bike Track in Clayton West has a dirt jump line and a disused track which was built by the council in 2009. The original track was not fit for purpose, which led local riders to build the dirt jumps. The council are happy that the dirt jumps remain (if managed to a standard set by them), but would also want the disused track brought back to life to make the site suitable for all abilities.
RK have submitted a design for a basic pump track which will replace the original trail. It will consist of rollers and tables with a large berm at one end and a start ramp at the other. The site was cleared pre lockdown 2, and the building material is already there, as we will be looking to reshape the existing features.
Managing unofficial trails.
In summer we were asked by the Council to resolve user conflict in Fixby Woods. Biking has been in the woods for years however a recent glut of inappropriate digging had caused a lot of complaints from locals. We’ve done a lot of remedial work to remove some of the poor quality digging, and reduce the impact of the woods. As it’s ancient woodland there was a real risk that biking could be banned and all trails dismantled however we gained agreement to keep both trails. The council have been really positive and are now making the following signs for all entrances.
It’s looking like we’re going to get a 12 month trial to rider manage the two trails to the agreed specification, hopefully ensuring the long term future. If successful it opens opens the door for rider managed woods throughout Kirklees, giving more security to other unofficial trails..
Natural Kirklees is a local group who operate a tool store, co-ordinate projects and provide our insurance for dig days and volunteering. At the time of the meeting, due to covid, our insurance wasn’t running, however, it is not back on and we are able to run volunteer sessions. They also have small grants available to member groups of up to £750 which can be used for projects that benefit the natural world. We are looking for project suggestions that would allow us to apply for a grant. The project would need to be something that benefits mtb as well as the countryside and other users; for example bridleway maintenance.
Trash Free Trails Reps.
It will come as no surprise that Ride Kirklees supports and pushes the TFT ethos. It was put out to the attendees that we would like to appoint a rep to promote TFT and encourage other group members to look after their trails. We now have 2 reps, so a huge thank you to Rik Legge and Austin Thornton for taking this on.
Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team (HVMRT).
Mal Gibb attends the monthly HVMRT fundraising meetings and has become heavily involved in organising the Rescue Rides (route setting, fundrasiing, signposting and sweeping the route). It’ll be back in 2021 after unsurprisingly being cancelled this year however his idea of a Facebook post about the loss of the event raised over £350.. He is trying to create a relationship between Leeds Urban Bike Park and the Mountain Rescue team as they are quite often called to attend injured riders. He is also helping to create a 120 mile fundraising walk.
RK are looking to make a large donation to the rescue team and getting a named brick in the wall at HVMRT headquarters. So far we have raised £100, but I’m sure we could up the donation and support the hero volunteers who will gladly pick any of us up after an off.
As a group, one of our main concerns is looking after and protecting our rights of way. The bridleway network in our area, is disjointed to say the least with numerous “footpaths” being suitable to ride, and others falling into disrepair. We are involved with a number of bridleways – either sitting on the steering groups, or carrying out maintenance.
Ramsden Road in the Holme valley is an official green lane and is open to all traffic. Over a number of years the surface of the track has been damaged through erosion. The Friends of Ramsden Road was set up to look at solving the issues, and fixing the byway up for all users. Ride Kirklees are active in the group and are pushing the voice of MTB.
The repairs have been divided into 3 phases. Phase 1 was completed in June 2020 by Bike track. They reinstated the original large drains on the moor side of the track and repaired a number of culverts. Phase 2 will go from the quarry and will look at the 6ft water channel that has become a main concern for the council. Although the track will be resurfaced all the way down, as it is a public byway, RK will be looking to ensure that the trail is still enjoyable and retains it character.
Recently there have been issues with off roaders straying from the track and going off piste, which is causing damage to the surrounding area. If anyone see’s any illegal activity, it should be reported to the police using 101 or through their online reporting https://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/form/report-nuisance-bikes
The packhorse trail was repaired by contractors, which resulted in a number of horrible steps coming down from the moor towards Easter Gate Bridge. The repairs were unsympathetic to the area and to horse riders and MTB – it was suitable for walkers only, even though it is an official bridleway. RK and Kirklees Bridleways Group flagged up the issues with the ROW team, and after some discussion the council appear to have nearly completed the repairs to the “repairs”. Stone pitching has replaced the vast majority of stairs, the water bar of death has an out-route to the left and also appears less severe.
In October RK members flagged up large scale works taking place on Magdalen road in Meltham. It appears that a new landowner has dug up a lot of the trail and filled it in with large aggregate. The works were immediately reported to Kirklees Council(KC), who were unaware of the works being done. The works were also reported to the Peak District National Park(PDNP) and Natural England.
Work was ordered to stop, and an investigation was started into whether the works were being done illegally. It transpires that there is no planning permission from KC/PDNP. The site is a SSSI and protected by law.
The landowner will now have the opportunity to apply for planning permission. RK, the Kirklees Bridleways Group and Peak and Northern footpath Society are now joining forces to write a letter of objection to the works, and will push for it to be returned to its original state.
Good old Covid has pretty much put a stop to our regular maintenance days, but we have still been able to get out and do some work.
Fixby Woods is coming on well and we have the backing of the council and most of the local community.
Turley Cote Lane is officially in Calderdale, but is on the border. Ride Calderdale as a group, haven’t really got down to business yet, and we jumped in to give them a helping hand (I say we, I mean Mal!!) Good progress has been made through some 1 to 1 sessions in order to be covid compliant. We can’t solve it completely but have removed a lot of standing water. It now needs Calderdale Council to provide several tons of aggregate to sort out the levels and stop huge puddles forming. The work and enthusiasm has rubbed off of Ride Calderdale, who are now a constituted group and are going to get digging.
Our regular dig days were completely stopped due to covid. We had planned on continuing work on Meltham Cop, Wessenden Head and Harrison Lane (Blackmoorfoot Res). Meltham Cop still needs some serious work to drain the year round ponds. Wessenden needs a bit of TLC in the form of culverts and cross drains clearing. Our proposal for Harrison Lane was approved by the council, and we will look to get a start on it as and when we can.
We will be working on proposals to carry out some maintenance on Wellands Lane in Cleckheaton and Springs Road (above Digley Res).
Oakwell Hall mountain bike trail is in need of some work as it is now out of its maintenance contract with Bike Track. Gordon McMinn is going to be heading over at least once a month to work on the trail, and will be able to take groups of volunteers. With covid restrictions, places will be limited, but we will be able to make a huge difference and ensure it doesn’t fall into disrepair.
In the new year we will be looking to organise Covid little big dig days. If Covid continues to stop large groups, we may run concurrent 1-1 sessions on all our maintenance sites. It’d make progress whilst keeping us within Covid guidelines.
The North Peak Loop.
We are working alongside Tameside MTB to develop a 40 mile loop that takes in the Northern fringes of the Peak District, including Holmfirth, Meltham and Marsden. The route will be waymarked and advertised as a national cycle route. At the moment, we are waiting to get permission to use the “footpath” across bobus moor in Marsden. In order for this to work the path would need to be upgraded to a bridleway. We have also approached a number of local businesses to have them included on the route map – this includes cafes, pubs and bike shops.
Gordon McMinn has been attending the Public Rights of Way meetings. Due to Covid, the meetings have been put on hold. When the resume Gordon will be delivering a presentation about Ride Kirklees and our achievements.
Restoring the Record.
Kirklees Bridleways Group have added 3 new evidence forms – Hey Green, Marsden, Mag Wood, Netherton and The Gulley, New Mill. These along with a large number of packhorse tracks are classed as footpaths, but should be bridleways. The more evidence forms that are submitted, the stronger the case for them being upgraded or lost. We have asked to be provided with maps showing the locations of the paths, to help our members identify the routes easier in order to submit evidence forms.
We would encourage our members to submit as many evidence forms that they can for trails they ride. The bridleways group have forms and maps for a number of the trails in question, and they can be found here:
As is usual, we ended the meeting with Any Other Business, which opened the meeting up to the group.
Rastrick Pump Track
Jason Ashworth’s idea for a fully funded tarmac pump track in Rastrick. Up to £65k available from Rastick Big Local as a starter. The plan is now to develop a proposal. The project will require at least 3 tenders from separate companies. The project will hopefully be steered by Ride Calderdale with help from Mal Gibb
This project by PDMTB is still ongoing, and we are awaiting an update on progress from PDMTB.
One Community Funding
Mal Gibb only found out about this today. A £1m fund available for community projects in Kirklees. Gordon to try to find out information from within the council.
Planning permission given to build houses at Storthes Hall. The owner is now creating issues with access to the woods where there’s a long history of use by all user groups. Nigel Addy is going to ascertain whether Rights Of Way can be granted from proven historic use under Restoring The Record.