Under the Highways Act 1980 Section 130
“It is the duty of the highway authority to assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of any highway for which they are the highway authority”
The Act goes on to say “….it is the duty of a council who are a highway authority to prevent, as far as possible, the stopping up or obstruction of—
(a) the highways for which they are the highway authority, and
(b) any highway for which they are not the highway authority, if, in their opinion, the stopping up or obstruction of that highway would be prejudicial to the interests of their area.”
Section 130A states “A highway is within this subsection if it is—
(a) a footpath, bridleway, or restricted byway.
Turning now to the bridge issue.
Under Sections 60 and 61 of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000, local authorities are required to produce a RIGHTS OF WAY IMPROVEMENT PLAN.
The Bradford ROWIP plan in relation to the Wharfe crossing at Burley makes interesting reading. It states:
“A major cross boundary issue is the crossing of the River Wharfe at Burley-in Wharfedale. Again, this links to cross border issues regarding high density settlements on the Bradford side and a lack of connection in some cases on the NYCC side. This is particularly highlighted at the Burley crossing which involves several complex issues.”
Page 119 contains a table “ROWIP Action Plan Large scale projects beyond the scope of current LTP allocation”.
In this table, under “DETAIL” it states “New bridge across the Wharfe at Burley.This requires cross boundary working with North Yorkshire and fundraising by the Ramblers Association”
Under “FACTORS INFLUENCING ACHIEVMENT” it states “Beyond scope of current funding. Only achievable with specific dedicated funding Technical challenges. Only medium corporate priority score – little value to Bradford economy Some opposition.”
“When” is down as “unknown”.
Cost is estimated as £800,000.
Given the state of Bradford these days, it is clear with a marking of “only medium corporate priority score – little value…etc” that Bradford has no intention of diverting resources to the bridge.
Turning to the North Yorkshire ROWIP Action Plan it says:
“… demand is expressed by local campaigns for more crossing points over the River Wharfe, particularly at Burley in Wharfedale which is within Bradford Metropolitan District Council area. The span of a potential bridge over the River Wharfe to serve the needs of residents of Burley is quite wide and therefore the cost of this bridge would be high. Ownership of such a project is not uncomplicated by the fact that there are two highway authorities and two land use planning authorities involved. Assessment of the rights of way network in this area suggests the need to look at the rights of way network in a critical way. There is clearly a wish for a non-motorised strategic route from West Yorkshire linking into the Nidderdale AONB. This may not be best served by the current location of rights of way and the most obvious crossing point. It may need re-aligning. The cost of such a bridge is estimated by the RoWIP steering group to be in the order of £500,000. This is a large sum of money. The bridge also needs to be additionally strengthened as the River Wharfe floods. It is recommended that a wider partnership looks at ways to achieve this link.”
It is interesting to see the substantial difference in estimated costs but again, the comment that this is a large sum of money,deferring action and stressing the complications indicates little is likely to happen.
Adding the attitudes of the councils together, plus the landowner problems we already know about, one again one can conclude there is little chance of a bridge being built and to meet their Rights of Way obligations,Bradford MDC need to properly maintain The Stones.