Category Archives: News & Opinions

Dragons Head

We have received an interesting email from an individual who has declared that they are interested in considering the purchase of the Dragons Head. They have asked for the views of the residents of Whittington as to the future of the building. The message is as fellows:

I see that the Dragon’s Head is up for sale again, and having read your blog, there appear to be several opinions on it.

I was wondering if there was any consensus in the village for the conversion of the pub into a house, along with the barn/stable? Currently, it is being offered either as one lot or potentially as 3 lots, of a pub, stable/barn and land with permission for three houses. I am considering a bid on the pub and the barn, with the intention of creating a house from the barn for sale, and converting the pub to a family home for myself.

Any information you have would be greatly appreciated.

After such a delay in getting a satisfactory outcome to the niggling issue of the future of the Dragons Head maybe it is about time that the redsidents of Whittington aired their views on the future of the building. So – get commenting!

John Keegan

PC Website

Today, 20th June 2019, is the sad occasion of the last day of the Whittington Parish Council, PCC and Village Hall Website.

Graham Williams and I would like to acknowledge the sterling effort that Jim Williams made, against a tide of lethargy, to make the Site a success. At the time of its inception, I remember two others promising to assist Jim in this task. In the event, no useful contribution was ever forthcoming from them and Jim was left to battle on alone – Not an unknown level of “assistance” in this our village.

When I first, in 2004, constructed my website for the village, it was an act of love for the historical aspects of our community. I make no bones in confessing that it was largely because of the efforts of Gerald Hodgson and his Historical Society, and the work they did in promoting the exploits of the Rev. John Hodgkins and the inventor William Sturgeon.

That site grew at a considerable rate and currently comprises 516 HTML Pages and 420 Images.

In addition to the news, it also carried the PC Minutes, something that I dropped when the 2011 Local Government Act made it obligatory for Parish Councils to make their official documents available on the WWW.

However. In January 2015 I started the Village Blog, Which became an outlet for people to air their, not always welcome, views on matters pertaining to the village. Currently, the Blog averages 18 visitors a day. Maybe not massive, but reading the Blog you would be forgiven for thinking that the number of visitors rarely exceeded three or four.

That single action brought about the first public meeting to be held in the village, other than the Annual Assemblies and Meetings regarding the future of the Dragons Head.  40 people attended the meeting, on the 20 March 2017 which saw the formation of Jims’ PC Website, intended for people to support the PC.

All that remains is for Graham and I to thank Jim for soldiering on alone for the last two years and apologise that the support he was promised never transpired.

John Keegan & Graham Williams (Agitators #1 & #2)

Lune Valley Ramble

When, at the Parish Annual Assembly, Rachel Sumner raised the problems of soil erosion due to flooding of the Lune, which has made the footpath along the river bank quite hazardous, she couldn’t have imagined the extent that the solution could become imponderable.

A number of websites define something called The Lune Valley Ramble. This purports to start at Green Ayre, Lancaster and finish at Stanley Bridge on the A65 at Kirkby Lonsdale.

The ramble does indeed start at Green Ayre and arrives at Newton, via Loyn Bridge at Gressingham. Over this distance, it is a footpath and a public right of way.

When the path reaches the Newton Hall fishing hut the right of way, along our side of the Lune. finishes.

According to the Lune Valley Ramble PDF Document, a concessionary path continues along the river bank, permission having been granted by Newton Hall. Such concession path is not shown on either the local authorities Definitive Map or any Ordinance Survey Map.

The right of way route passes up the small lane to the B6254 towards Newton. There is however a bridlepath which fords the river and continues to Tunstall.

To continue to Kirkby the right of way is along the B6254 to the bridlepath at Low Hall corner, then down to the Whittington Hall fishing hut at which point the right of way continues along the river bank to Kirkby. The bridlepath also fords the river to end in Nether Burrow.

The path between the fishing hut, along the river bank to the end of Coneygarth is not actually a right of way. There is no publicright of way along the river bank between Coneygarth and Newton.

This is the stretch of the river bank that is giving course for concern.

So. Now the thorny question arises. Whose responsibility is it to maintain the footpath/public right of way? – Frankly, I haven’t a clue.

What appears to be a relatively simple question is actually a potential minefield because paths recorded as a result of public use over 20 years from the 1960s onwards are not maintainable by anyone.  And since there is no duty to maintain, there is no right to maintain if a working party of members of the public consider that the path should be opened up.

Yet the Highway Authority is liable for injuries and loss that the public suffers on footpaths, bridleways and byways, despite having no duty to maintain them.  Accordingly many will cut the paths as part of their general maintenance program and landowners frequently keep the paths clear as this can often be a good land management activity (ensuring the public keep to paths rather than wandering into fields, for example). Rarely will the rights and wrongs of this have to be analysed in any detail.

Natural England’s Web page says:

“The responsibility for recording and maintaining rights of way is shared between local authorities, landowners and occupiers.

Local authorities (national park authorities, county councils, some district councils, metropolitan boroughs or unitary authorities) must record the legal existence and location of rights of way on the definitive map, and ensure that they are open for public use.

Landowners and occupiers must ensure that rights of way are not blocked by crops or other vegetation or otherwise obstructed, that the route is identifiable and the surface is restored soon after cultivation.”

The landowner does not have a duty to maintain a public right of way.  They are not entitled to obstruct them and they must clear the vegetation that encroaches from either side.  If they plough or disturb the surface of a cross-field path they must reinstate and mark the line on the ground.  If they plant a crop on a cross-field path they must cut it or spray out the line of the path.  If they do none of these things, however, they have no duty to ensure the path is clear and available for public use.”

For those, including myself, who have not actually been down to the river to view the damage to the path, the following image has been kindly provided by Graham Williams

Photo courtesy of Graham Williams.

So there you have it M’lud – Clear as mud.

John Keegan

Whittington PC Renaissance

Here in Whittington, we should rejoice in the Renaissance of our Parish Council.

We now have a lifeblood injection of three spanking new Parish Councilors, and the PC is still able to call upon the significant expertise of both of the recently retiring Counselors, Eric Pelter and Barbara Atkinson.

Compare this with the situation in nearby Casterton as reported by the BBC:

“A village parish council had to draft in support from another authority after it was left with just one councillor.

Five councillors usually represent Casterton, near Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria, although it had been managing with four.

They recently stood down and there was just a single candidate standing in the local elections on 2 May.

South Lakeland District Council has now appointed four of its councillors to the parish council.

There will be another election for Casterton Parish Council on 13 June and it is hoped local people will come forward.

The council, which looks after issues such as some street lights and play areas, could not act legally with just a single councillor.

Rev Kevin Price, the clerk to Casterton Parish Council, said: “It’s a problem happening at many parish councils – I am clerk to 11 and about half of them are short.

“However, in 36 years I can’t remember any being down to just one member.

“There does seem some reluctance in the rural community to stand and some do not want the commitment.”

Our newly formatted PC deserves the support of parishioners from Keerside to High Biggins, via Docker, Newton, Whittington and Sellet

John Keegan.