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Monday, 20 June 2011

Community spirit keeps road open

Residents forced to help themselves as village green hangs in balance

A fete planned for this Sunday in a small Hebden community is more than your usual summer celebration ? it’s a lifeline for residents who rely on the proceeds to keep their road open.

Oakville Road on the outskirts of Hebden may be only a quarter of a mile from the main A646, yet it has been ignored, say residents, by Calderdale Council. In the winter, it is left totally ungritted, and for the rest of the year, potholes are filled only if residents have raised enough money to buy materials.

To make matters worse, they say they have been warned that doing diy repairs to the road could leave them liable if there was an accident.
Added to this, the annual summer fayre, which raises money for essential works in the area could be in jeopardy if the Oakville Residents’ Association fails in its bid to keep their communal village green.

Children's games

Children's games at the Fete in 2009

Residents submitted an application for village green status to Calderdale Council in May 2008. The Pen, as it’s known, had been owned by various railway companies but has been used by local people for recreation and community events for many years. In June 2008, the land went to auction, but failed to meet its reserve price. Despite the residents being in negotiation with the landowners to buy the land, a private sale with the auctioneer saw The Pen whisked away from under their noses. 

An inquiry is due to make a decision on village green status this September.

“Without the green, we can’t continue to organise events to raise money for the local community,” says Maria Howarth, Secretary to the Oakville Residents Association. "The priority, due to the severity of the winters over the last couple of years, has been to keep Oakville Road open. Although all minor roads suffer from lack of grit in extreme weather, this unadopted, steep single-track road receives no council support at all." 

"Although we’re so close to the Todmorden to Halifax main road, actually getting to it, whether by car or on foot, presents major hazards and difficulties."

While residents say it’s annoying that their bins don’t always get emptied, it’s a more serious matter when emergency services can’t reach people in need. 

Mountain Rescue

Calder Valley Moorland Rescue Team

"A couple of years ago the Calder Valley Mountain Rescue Team had to be called on, not only to carry by stretcher an elderly resident who needed emergency treatment but also to rescue the stranded ambulance that could not reach her. This did seem to be extreme when the main road can be seen across the railway banking and yet ambulances were unable to get to the junction with Turret Royd," added Maria.

The Summer Fayre starts at 2pm on Sunday, June 26, and there will be stalls and games. Non-residents are more than welcome but are asked to walk up from the A646 - partly because of parking limitations, but also to avoid making potholes in the road worse.

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