I believe that Highways England should take over the cleaning of all of trunk roads on their network. Currently HE are only responsible for cleaning some of them.
In my e-mail of 1st March 2017 to Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Transport I wrote:
“As you know most of the trunk roads on the HE network have to be cleansed by the various local authorities through which they pass. So before the HE contractor can cut the grass the council’s
contractor has to pick up the litter.
The C&LG Select Committee recommended that responsibility for cleansing these roads should be transferred to HE.
One local authority had described co-ordinating activities with the Highways Agency as a “nightmare”.
Chichester Council have said – this would generate obvious logistical and financial efficiencies.
In their response to the report the government stated that this would require primary legislation which is incorrect.
Will you please recommend to the Secretary of State for Transport that he issues an order under EPA S86(11) to transfer the cleansing of the remaining all-purpose trunk roads from the
respective local authorities to Highways England?
If a local authority wants to cone off a lane for litter picking they have to book the arrangement with HE well in advance.
Chichester City Council are one of several councils along the south coast who each have to clean their section of the A27. Chief Executive, Diane Shepherd says, in reference to my proposal :
I fully agree with this approach. This would generate obvious logistical and financial efficiencies
Co-ordination of their activities with those of the relevant HE contractor can be problematic as demonstrated here:
Evidence from Warwickshire
Sean Lawson Head of Environmental Services at Rugby Borough Council, a member of the Warwickshire Waste Partnership, was questioned by Simon Danczuk MP in November 2014 at the Communities and Local Government Commons Select Committee hearing into Litter:
Q89 Simon Danczuk: ….How do you work with the Highways Agency in terms of ensuring that motorway trunk roads are kept clean?
Sean Lawson: We find it a nightmare
Simon Danczuk: Why is that?
Sean Lawson: It is because they do not communicate with us. They produce a wonderful glossy strategy document that says how they will work with local authorities, but we get very little engagement. We find that there is a road closure on by travelling down the road. We could have done a lot of work. We arrange with them to go out and do work when they have road closures on, and they don’t turn up. I have two or three crews out there at midnight waiting to clean a highway and they are not there.
Simon Danczuk: They are just wasting council tax payers’ money.
Sean Lawson: Yes
Evidence from Tendring
Here is a quote from Tendring District Council in reference to the A120, the strategic link into Harwich.
I can confirm that I have emailed and left voice messages with the highways contractor carrying out the roadworks along the A120 with the intention of litter picking the central reservation at night whilst the road closures were in place, our contractors have provided me with costs and manpower for the job. Unfortunately , despite several efforts I have not received any communication back and without their consent and permission our contractors can not carry out these works (6th Feb 2017)
Evidence from Northampton
This article from the Northampton Chronicle shows (1) just how littered these roads can become and (2) how poor the co-ordination between HE’s contractors and the council can be. The former coned off lanes to carry out tree cutting without making sure the council took the opportunity of removing the litter.
Councils unaware of their responsibilities
Please refer to this post of 2014: Councils unaware of responsibility to clean trunk roads and motorway roundabouts
Support from the C&LC Select Committee
This proposal now has the support of the Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee.
In their response to the Committee’s report the Government stated that: ….to make HE legally responsible for litter collection on all the roads that they operate ….. would need primary legislation and would include complicated alterations to funding arrangements that would reduce the resources available to local authorities.
However the government already have powers to transfer cleansing duties from a local authority to a highways authority (e.g. Highways England) under EPA86 (11).
They were used in the Highway Litter Clearance and Cleaning (Transfer of Responsibility) (England) Order 2009 which transferred responsibility for cleaning several APTRs from various local authorities to the Highways Agency under this legislation in 2009.
Why did the government mislead parliament on this point?
According to Chichester City Council’s Chief Executive, Diane Shepherd, her council does not receive any specific funding for cleaning their section the A27. It would seem therefore that no adjustments in funding would be required. Additional funding needs to be provided to HE in any case and an extra amount could be provided to cover these extra duties.
In a letter to Andrew Tyrie MP of 17th August 2015 , the Under Secretary of State for Transport Andrew Jones wrote:
For instance, a pilot scheme in the Midlands is being progressed to transfer sweeping and cleaning activities from councils to Highways England by agreement on a number of all-purpose trunk roads.
On 8th April 2016 Marcus Jones, Minister for Local Government wrote to Kevin Hollinrake MP saying
Highways England’s Midlands region signed a partnership agreement with a number of local authorities in December 2015 which formalised a collaborative approach to working to clear litter. This is already delivering results from widespread sharing of equipment and resources.
So what is supposed to be happening – the transfer of cleansing activities or formal collaboration?
20th March 2017
- Have your say
- Roadside litter complaints
- Duty to keep land clear of litter
- Key recommendations
- Contact us
- How you can help
- REPORT: Solving the litter problem
- REPORT: Litter on motorways and trunk roads
- Highways England – legislation
- Highways England
- Highways England network map
- Cleansing of HE trunk roads (APTRS) – transfer of responsibility to HE
- Litter and the law
- Litter Abatement Orders
- Penalty Notices for littering
- Safe roadside litter picking
- Litter from waste transport vehicles
- Trade Waste
- Who is responsible for cleaning this highway?
- Our FOI requests
- MP meetings – update
- Parliamentary questions
- TheyWorkForYou annotations
- Find a Local Authority
- CIWM On-line
- Get Britain Tidy blog
- HWRCs – Household waste & recycling centres
- Litter from waste transporters – correspondence
- Littered slip roads on M1 and M4
- Channel 5 News 10th April 2017
- Litter Strategy for England
- Waste transporter sheds waste onto M27
- No worker injuries on M40 for 4 years
- Videos showing refuse escaping from 4 waste transporters
- Cleansing of HE trunk roads (APTRS) – further evidence from councils
- HE’s A1089 Tilbury Dock Approach Road off A13 in a mess
- PCNs – Litter from vehicles – S61 of London Local Authorities Acts 2007
- Leaked litter strategy – we have heard it all before
- Highways England admit litter is a danger for motorists
- Waste transporter sheds waste onto M56