Angry cyclists to stage “mass trespass” of closed Derbyshire Snake Pass landslip road this weekend

A “mass trespass” of the closed Snake Pass landslip road closure in northern Derbyshire is due to take place this weekend in protest at council restrictions banning cyclists and walkers.

By Eddie Bisknell
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 9:33 am

The so-called “trespass”, in an apparent hat-tip to the Kinder Scout trespass of 1932, which took place nearby, would happen from 2pm on Saturday, March 12.

Posters advertising the protest have been circulated on social media, with those taking part asked to meet in Square West in Glossop to start the “trespass”.

This comes after around 12 miles of the Snake Pass route between Manchester and Sheffield through the Peak District was closed by Derbyshire County Council on February 21, after heavy rainfall caused by numerous storms led to three landslips.

Derbyshie County Council announced the A57 was closed to cyclists and walkers days after landslips closed it to cars and lorries.

One such landslip had caused the road to drop by two metres, with the authority saying that the land was still moving, presenting a risk to motorists and other road users.

The authority said “we don’t want an accident”.

Harry Gray, who is organising the mass “trespass” told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Snake Pass has been closed because of a landslip, we agree that this section should remain closed to cyclists and walkers for safety reasons.

“However, closing the entire road is unfair and potentially not legal.

The A57 Snake Pass has been closed in Derbyshire due to landslips. Image: Derbyshire County Council.

“The claim that it is dangerous because of works vehicles is laughable, since the road is one of the most dangerous in the peaks when open to motor vehicles.

“All that is needed is a sign to let people know there is still local traffic using the road.

“Derbyshire Council have taken no previous steps to make the road safer for cyclists, like an average speed check, in the past – so why do they care so much now?”

Mr Gray said he had previously made frequent use of the route but had stopped due to the perceived danger from speeding vehicles.

He said when he had visited during the closure last week it had been “so much safer”.

Mr Gray said the response to the planned “trespass” has been “amazing”.

He says it is not technically a trespass, claiming the council “hasn’t legally been fully closed yet”.

The council has served a closure on the route under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (as amended) to prohibit its use by traffic.

On March 8, the authority said that following large groups of cyclists visiting the road to make use of a chance to use the route without traffic, it has been closed to all users – apart from residents who live on it, along with their visitors.

It said road races involving cars had also taken place on the route at night time, with the closure now being monitored 24/7 at both ends – near Glossop and Ladybower Reservoir.

Cllr Nigel Gourlay, one of the council representatives for the area, told the LDRS: “I have received emails and phone calls from cyclists, walkers, and local residents living on the Snake.

“I can see the frustration and anger that has appeared since the sudden closure. However, this road has been closed for safety reasons, and I would plead with cyclists to use common sense when entering a zone that has been declared dangerous.

“In particular, I would ask that they treat highways workers with respect, who are monitoring the road closure.

“If cyclists decide against advice to cycle past roadblocks, I hope they will keep their wits about them, and steer clear of heavy machinery.”

Cllr Damien Greenhalgh, who also represents the area covering the Snake Pass, said: “I have raised concerns with the executive director of place (who oversees highways) and I have raised the concerns of local residents who use it, as well as those of visitors who are cyclists and the benefits to wellbeing and to the local economy.

“The director thinks it is a temporary thing based on what he said was the behaviour of some cyclists, which was news to me.

“I still think it is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and that other compromises can be made for there to still be benefits.”

He called the wholesale closure “overkill”.

On the trespass, he said: “I understand why people would want to do an action like that and in the High Peak we have a proud history of that with a mass trespass nearby, but what I would prefer is for the council to reconsider and give its residents and cyclists an alternative to their current proposals.

“I am supportive but it shouldn’t come to that.”

When the LDRS approached the county council, it said it had been unaware of the planned “trespass”. A spokesperson said: “We are now aware that a protest is planned for the Snake Pass at the weekend.”

Derbyshire police have also been approached for comment but it has not yet provided a statement.

The closure has been initially said to last a month while the site is investigated, with the closure listed as lasting until March 22

A suggested diversion for the route measures 27.5 miles and takes an hour.

Commenting on social media, people have said they visited the area for the first time and spent money in local businesses purely to visit the closed Snake Pass.

They also say the council did not take action regarding the safety of cyclists on the route before now, with the peril being presented by motorists, despite the route now being closed to all but those living there.