LOCAL authorities have been accused of passing the buck over a dangerous Holme Valley cliff.
The 30 metre drop at Wooldale Cliff Road above Holmfirth has been unsecured since wooden fencing installed by Kirklees Council was burnt down.
But four years on and no progress has been made on who should install new fencing amid confusion over whose responsibility it is.
Wooldale resident, Richard Smith, said he had repeatedly brought up the matter at council meetings but said Kirklees Council, Holme Valley Parish Council (HVPC) and Holme Valley Land Charity, a charity run by the parish council and owners of the quarry below the cliff, were all referring him on to the next authority.
He said: “Four years ago they considered it so serious they closed the road. I specifically asked (chairman of HVPC) Rhona Bratt if she would bring the matter to the full council, but she referred it to the land charity.
“I spoke with Kirklees legal people and they couldn’t explain why the parish council has passed this over to the land charity since when the land charity makes a decision they are supposed to bring in back to the full council to approve it.
“But then Kirklees Highways tell me they have plans and estimates ready and they’re only waiting for councillors to make a decision.”
Holme Valley councillor Donald Firth admitted there was confusion over who should provide the fencing.
He said: “It’s a very complicated set up, the first person that comes to me and can explain it can have a medal, this has been going on for 20 years.
“I have to say the Friends of Cliff Rec have done a good job so I’d give them a big pat on the back, but until we get sorted out who owns it we can’t do anything. At this moment in time I’m not sure, is it the parish council, the land charity or Kirklees?
“You can’t blame the council because every time the council has done something it’s been vandalised.
“Clr Nigel Patrick got a fence put there but unfortunately it was a rather nice wooden fence and the clowns came along and they burned it down.
“At the end of the day we all get fed up of putting our hands in our pockets for things that get vandalised, burnt and damaged.”
But a spokeswoman for Kirklees Council said they now thought the dangerous cliff was not on their land.
She said: “We can confirm that Kirklees Council does not own this land and that the fence would be the responsibility of the landowner.”
Chairman of Holme Valley Land Charity, Charles Kaye, also told the Express & Chronicle the fence was not their responsibility.
He said: “The land we own includes the cliff face and the quarry below but does not include the land at the top of the cliff face.”
The charity held a public meeting about the quarry last April following criticism over its sale of other plots of land around the district in 2009.
More than 50 members of the community and climbing enthusiasts who train in the quarry turned up to appeal for it to be left alone.
But nine months on no plans have been announced and it could still be sold. The charity has said any money raised would be used on projects for the benefit of the community.
Mr Smith said he was unhappy at the lack of progress on the matter and criticised the land charity for failing to disclose its plans.
He added: “My main concern is about the way this land charity works. The more I learn the more confused I get. I don’t understand the workings of it and the councillors don’t either.
“They seem to be playing their cards very close to their chest and the concern is the lack of transparency. As it stands I can’t see any benefit from it.
“There was a sale so money has been raised, but I’m not aware of how it’s being spent. We were told there would be meetings so residents could voice there opinions on how the money is spent and how they would manage the land, but so far there has been none.”