Holmfirth joinery firm owner confused after Kirklees Council tell him to take responsibility for wall they have repaired themselves in the past

Ivan Beardsell beside the crumbling drystone wall in HolmfirthIvan Beardsell beside the crumbling drystone wall in Holmfirth
Ivan Beardsell beside the crumbling drystone wall in Holmfirth
Highways bosses have refused to fix a retaining wall holding up a road in the Holme Valley, saying it’s the responsibility of the local man whose workshop it overlooks.

The decision has left joiner Ivan Beardsell scratching his head since Kirklees Council has twice repaired sections of the same wall in the past.

But the council is standing firm - even though the drystone wall is crumbling and risks affecting the busy local road running above it.

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Officers have eschewed responsibility and pushed the matter back to Mr Beardsell. They say the council is liable to maintain a top parapet section within the highway boundary but not the retaining wall itself.

Mr Beardsell, whose family-run workshop has stood on land off South Lane in Holmfirth for half a century, says his concerns are growing.

“The wall was built to hold up the road,” he says, looking up 15 feet to South Lane as vehicles head down the precipitous hill to the town centre.

“It’s a big hole. No-one has excavated that. Who in their right mind would try to? It has collapsed.

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“The road is going to go eventually as it’s getting worse. It’s a nightmare. And the council is denying all responsibility. They don’t want to know.”

Kirklees Council repaired sections of the wall in 1989 and then again in 2005, when it admitted it was the responsibility of the highways department

But senior staff say new evidence has come to light that passes the obligation to repair - and the cost - onto the householder.

That means only the highway parapet section of the wall - above road level - belongs to the council. Everything below it is outside the highway boundary and so is in private ownership.

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The council’s head of highways, Mark Scarr, said his service had a policy to examine existing records, take observations made on site and review any other evidence available to determine where the liability for maintenance and repair of retaining walls lies.

He said: “It is not uncommon for new evidence to come to light which may affect the outcome of ownership and responsibility.”

Mr Beardsell says he is nervous of the cost of repair and says: “If I give way on that will the rest of it become my responsibility? Because it’s holding the road up.

“Part of it fell down when a skip wagon was taking rubble away from a renovated house. This whole road wasn’t built for that sort of traffic.”

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Mr Beardsell is being backed by Holme Valley South Conservative councillors Donald Firth and Nigel Patrick.

Coun Patrick said: “From the information I have heard from past letters there’s no reason why the council should deny responsibility now.

“They should just get on and fix it, stop wasting time and potentially putting lives at risk.”