Examiner Live 20/11/19
A council has been accused of making “error after error” in an 11-year David and Goliath dispute over a Huddersfield farm track that may have cost taxpayers as much as £250,000.
Dairy farmers Angela and Edward Bradley say a narrow, single-lane track that runs across their land has no public access rights. Riders and walkers are allowed to use it if they have sought permission.
Kirklees Council argued it is a public bridleway.
Mr and Mrs Bradley, of Nether Moor Farm, South Crosland, near Huddersfield, challenged the council and the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (SSEFRA) in the High Court.
They are now claiming victory after the case was quashed .
Mrs Bradley said she and her husband had been “bullied and harassed” by council staff for more than a decade and called on the authority to apologise for its actions.
Kirklees Council has now apologised to the Bradleys.
Right of Way dispute at Nether Hall Farm, South Crosland, Huddersfield – Farmers Angela and Edward Bradley refused to allow Kirklees’ officials on to their land.
Mrs Bradley said: “Council officers have made error after error in this matter and have been supported by ill-informed elected members who run our council resulting in a huge burden on the public purse.
“They must have an elastic bank account with our public money in it to have pursued us for 11 years.
“We have been bullied and harassed for 11 years by self-important yellow-vested little Hitler officials acting unlawfully and with apparent impunity.”
The long-running row has previously seen the Bradleys confronting police and council officials when they arrived to remove a gate set up on the lane to prevent cattle escaping.
Huddersfield dairy farmers Edward and Angela Bradley who have won a High Court challenge over a disputed right of way.
One supporter, public rights of way campaigner Andy Dunlop, was arrested on suspicion of wilful obstruction and later released . His car, which was parked on the land at the centre of the dispute, was towed away at the request of police.
Following intervention by the-then Environment Secretary Michael Gove the case was heard at a public inquiry. The Secretary of State’s inspector agreed with the council that the track through the Bradleys’ farmyard should be a bridleway.
But the couple lodged an appeal and the order was quashed, bringing an end to the impasse.
Rights of Way expert Andy Dunlop refused a police request to move his car from the track leading to the farm.
Added Mrs Bradley: “We will always contest any claims on our private property now and in the future.”
Up to 2016 the stalemate is said to have cost the council around £14,000 in legal fees.
However the Bradleys estimate the cost to the public purse to be in excess of £250,000.
They say Kirklees Council will not provide divulge how much it has spent fighting the case preferring to “hoodwink” the public by only quoting minimal costs for legal advice through Freedom of Information requests.
A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “This is an issue which has been ongoing for a number of years.
“The government planning inspector looked as this closely and they made what they thought was the correct recommendation.
“However, the defendants – the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the council – have agreed that there were flaws in the decision of the government planning inspector, which meant it could not stand and should be quashed by the court.
“We always work hard to make sure we are doing the right thing for our residents and this case was no different.
“However, we accept that a mistake was made here and we apologise for the impact this may have had on the Bradleys.”