Protest in Oakenshaw amid questions over monument’s future

Oakenshaw residents will gather at the site of the cross, on Wyke Lane, tomorrow (Saturday, February 11).

The cross, which has been hit several times by HGVs, was removed in March last year.

Now, Kirklees Council has said funding is not currently in place for its reinstatement.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Oakenshaw Cross pictured last FebruaryThe Oakenshaw Cross pictured last February (Image: Newsquest)

In response to Batley & Spen MP Kim Leadbeater, the local authority added that the monument will remain in safe storage until funding is identified and a decision is made on its future. 

It added that an assessment found several vehicle types are technically unable to manoeuvre on the road without leaving the carriageway or hitting the monument.

A spokesperson from the Residents of Oakenshaw Village group said: “The community are passionate about their cross and want it returned back to its original position in the centre of the village, which dates back to 1702.

“This was erected by Dr Richardson of Bierley Manor and dedicated to the memory of his wife Sarah who died in childbirth.

“The Council put the cross in storage and stated they required a condition appraisal before repairs are carried out.”

The group claimed the community was told the cross would be reinstated in its original position once repairs were completed – and this would include traffic control measures to help prevent future incidents. 

“The community feel they have been let down by the Council,” said the group. 

The first of the three incidents happened on May 25, 2021, when the cross was severely damaged. 

It was hit again by vehicles on November 19, 2021, and February 21, 2022.

Writing to Kirklees Council, Ms Leadbeater said: “I am sure you will understand both the residents and my own frustration at the lack of progress in resolving the issues with regard to the Oakenshaw Cross that we discussed during our meeting back in October.

“As you will know, residents have been waiting many months now for the situation to be resolved and will now be understandably upset that a resolution is not forthcoming, and the monument remains in storage.

“Can I convey my extreme disappointment at the lack of progress, but also may I offer my complete support to help in any way possible to help remedy the situation by working with both the Council and concerned residents.”

In response to the MP, a Kirklees Council spokesperson said: “The Highway Authority was made aware of the damage and removed the monument to a safe storage area following damage by a third party in 2021.

“The monument currently remains in safe storage until funding is identified and a decision is made with regard to its reinstatement.

“The Highway Authority was tasked to undertake a review of the road network surrounding the monument including both technical and on-site assessments to establish if the width/layout of the network could facilitate the unrestricted vehicle movements around the monument in its previous location.

“The assessment concluded that several vehicle types are technically unable to manoeuvre around the monument without leaving the carriageway or hitting the monument.

“Evidence also exists which demonstrates vehicles are leaving the carriage, driving on footways and also damaging highway infrastructure (including lighting columns).

“Therefore, for safety reasons both of the monument, road users and pedestrians, the Highway Authority is unable to recommend its reinstatement without significant changes to the highway infrastructure and the introduction of vehicle access restrictions – which would be subject to consultation (TRO).

“The Highway Authority has provided a series of options for consideration including relocating the monument subject to a consultation, planning and a discussion with heritage.

“Local members and the MP have details of the options and have been to site to understand the difficulties and witness the damage.

“At this time, no funding has been assigned to the reinstatement of the monument.

“Therefore, the project has been paused including any proposed consultation.”

The T&A approached Kirklees Council for further comment, but did not receive a response. 

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