Friday, March 21, 2008
In 2005, the Trail Rider's Fellowship (TRF) - an organisation set up to open up the countryside to motorcycles - applied to make Coach Road, Stoney Road and Rabbit Lane in Longdendale a BOAT ('Byway Open to All Traffic'). Although Tameside MBC have consistently objected to this, the TRF have so far succeeded in their plans.
In our view, Tameside's tactics and the way they have handled this matter have led to this outcome - they screwed up big time!
First of all they failed to advertise the issue so that people couldn’t object. When challenged over this by one of our readers, Tameside merely stated that there was "no provision in schedule 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for giving public notice" - they didn't have to, so they decided not to bother. Great.
Secondly, they submitted evidence that the lanes in question were ancient highways. Now, because of that and as a direct result of the Council incompetence, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has decided in favour of the TRF that these lanes should be open to all traffic! The clincher is on page 14 (paragraph 43) of this document (opens PDF), and we quote (emphasis added):
Copies of some of the maps referred to in this appeal have been provided but not all. The two earliest maps, the 1777 Burdett map and the un-named map of 1831, were inspected by the Council but have not been supplied. However the details contained in the Council’s report  are not disputed by the appellant; in fact it tends to support his case.
We can only conclude extreme incompetence or deliberate tactics to allow traffic onto these country lanes in order to further the case for a bypass. Either of these conclusions seem feasible when buffoons such as Sean Parker-Perry ( the District Assembly Member given responsibility for dealing with this) and Bill Johnson (he of Longdendale Hertitage Trust fame and another pro-bypass 'green') are involved. Indeed, we feel that the hue and cry that Tameside have thrown up in the press since the New Year about this matter serve to cover up their own cack-handed way of dealing with it.
If we lose round two (which seems inevitable now), drivers would have legal permission to short cut Mottram Moor by heading up Coach Road, turning left or right onto Rabbit Lane and then heading off towards Ashton or the M67. Of course this would be difficult at the moment unless you own a 4x4, quad bike or motorcycle, but we are strongly against the use of these country lanes by all motorised traffic. If the route is used enough, over time it may have to be converted to a more general purpose road.
We believe it is vital to prevent these lanes from becoming BOATs. Please object ASAP to the following name/address:
Quote reference ETL/AKD/24860/1. The deadline is 21st April 2008, and the grounds upon which you object must be stated.