In 2009 “off road” 4×4 vehicles and motorbikes started to try to drive through the Bradley’s Farmyard and dairy based upon advice of Kirklees Council. Attempts to stop them resulted in threats and eventually assault by angry drivers who claimed the route was public. When questioned, the Council told the Bradleys that the Council had recorded, without notice, a public road through the middle of their small dairy farm in 1985. The Council said the Bradleys must let people through.
This led to a David and Goliath battle involving two failed enforcement attempts by the Council to access the land, the unjustifiable arrest of one man, a District Judge telling the Council and a local Bridleways group to ‘go away and rethink their position’ and a Public Inquiry in January this year where the Council decided that the route wasn’t actually a public road but a Public Bridleway.
The Councils Order was supported by a local Bridleways Group but evidence was heard from 3 separate witnesses that false evidence had been submitted by horse riders in a bid to pervert the course of justice.
In June, the Secretary of State’s Inspector published his decision and against all the odds, agreed with the Council that he believed the route should be a Bridleway.
The Bradleys lodged an appeal in the High Court on 4 separate points of law.
The Secretary of State and Kirklees Council when faced with the Bradleys overwhelming evidence and arguments agreed they were both wrong . The Order was quashed.
Mrs Bradley is quoted as saying
“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 as they have.
We have been bullied and harassed for 11 years by self -important yellow vested little Hitler officials acting unlawfully and with apparent impunity.
Over 11 years officers have behaved in a manner that can only be described as misguided with partisan prejudice. They have ‘ganged up’ with User Groups and it has been clear that the intention was to put us out of business and into bankruptcy by trying to wear us down with bully boy tactics of threats, enforcement notices and unlawful invasion.
The incompetency of Kirklees Council who continue to employ the officer who was originally responsible for the stance of the Public Rights of Way department in this matter beggars belief. The prime mover and his supervisors continue to make the same errors with other landowners in Kirklees with total disregard for the law, instead pursuing what appears to be personal agendas in claiming Public Rights of Way.
We have had excellent support from our legal team at Irwin Mitchell, our Rights of Way Adviser Mr Andrew Dunlop and the National Farmers Union. Justice can now been seen to be done.
We would look forward to an apology from Kirklees Council but doubt they have the courage to admit their errors.
The cost to the public purse is estimated to be in excess of £250K but the Council will not give actual costs of manpower given to this battle over a period of 11 years and prefer to hoodwink the public by only quoting minimal costs for legal advice through Freedom of Information requests.
We will always contest any claims on our private property now and in the future”.