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A355 Reply to South Bucks DC

On October 1, 2010, in Beaconsfield A355, Magistrates Court, by PeterSilverman
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20 Kingsend, Ruislip Middlesex, HA4 7DA

Miss L Reardon
South Bucks District Council

30th September 2010

Dear Miss Reardon,

Litter Abatement Order A 355

Thank you for your letter of 28th September.  My position is as follows:

As the litter has now been removed there is no need for the court to issue a Litter Abatement Order and I will seek my costs listed below under EPA 91(12). I will therefore need to persuade the court that when my complaint was made on 31st August the section of road in question, the central reservation of the A355, was defaced by litter and I had reasonable grounds for bringing the complaint.

Was it defaced by litter?

The answer is clearly “yes” as evidenced by the photographs of the central reservation submitted with my complaint.  This is not surprising as you have confirmed that it had not been litter picked for over 3 months.  Please note that the photo evidence presented in my complaint was of a section well away from the twenty meter stretch by the traffic lights which you referred to in your letter.

Did I have reasonable grounds for bringing the complaint?

The complaint was reasonable as SBDC was failing in its statutory duty.

The Environmental Protection Act S91 required SBDC to ensure that the central reservation was, so far as was practicable, kept clear of litter.  In fulfilling this duty it needed to have regard to the Litter Code of Practice. (S89 10)

The Code emphasises the need for “accurate and systematic monitoring” and “procedures to ensure that litter problems do not build up and that acceptable standards are maintained” (LC 6.1). Duty  bodies are expected to set their cleansing schedules so that they meet the duty to keep their highways clean.(9.1).

As a last resort, if acceptable standards of litter and refuse are not met, the Code sets response times by which land must be returned to an acceptable standard.(9.4)

Central reservations of trunk roads are included in the Special Circumstances category for which the last resort response time i.e. time to restore to an acceptable grade of cleanliness is a maximum of  “28 days or as soon as practicable” (LC Table 1)

The decision made on 13th July to book a litter pick for 22/23rd September was either:

A. In response to adverse monitoring in which case a response time of two and a half months was grossly in excess of the “last resort” maximum set by the Code or,

B. Was a matter of setting the next scheduled clean following the one in May.  In that case a gap of 4 months was being left between litter picks. This is would be in breach of the requirements of the EPA and the Code unless of course the intention was to instigate a supplementary clean in the event of a valid complaint or an adverse monitoring inspection.

I sent the warning notice to SBDC on 22nd July.  The M40 J2 roundabout was cleaned on 10th August. I then waited until the 31st August before submitting my complaint about the A355 central reservation.

Had I pressed ahead with the complaint without allowing a sensible period for the area to be cleaned then it could be argued that I had acted unreasonably. But I did not.  I had waited patiently for 40 days.  This is well in excess of the Code’s maximum last resort response time of 28 days.

SBDC made no representations to me pleading extenuating circumstances and explaining why they needed longer than this maximum to rectify the problem.

You say “It is considered unreasonable to have proceeded directly to the issue of a summons without having due regard to the special circumstances of this stretch of road and the need to have in place a Traffic Management Order- …” However, I did have regard to the special circumstances having noted  the maximum response time set in the Code for such areas which specifically takes these factors into account.


My conversation with Mrs Cullen

You go on to say “.. even more bearing in mind you knew the scheduled clearing date” .

If, on 22nd July, as you claim, I had known that the area was not going to be cleaned until 22/23rd September i.e. for 2 months I would have proceeded immediately with a complaint to the court. I would have had reasonable grounds for so doing as SBDC would in effect having been saying that they were going to exceed the last resort maximum response time by a whole month before cleaning away the litter!!

The reason I did not do this was that I was not, as you claim, made aware by Mrs Cullen of the scheduled clean.

The conversation did not cover any timetable for cleaning either the roundabout or the A355.  I assumed that, having received the warning notice, SBDC  would deal with the problem within a reasonable time frame.

We spoke instead about who was responsible for cleaning the roundabout.  Mrs Cullen was under the impression that the Highways Authority were. I said that I thought it was SBDC.  We agreed to resolve this by my arranging an onsite meeting with the Highways Agency.  These points were covered in the subsequent e-mail correspondence which made no mention of any promised clean up times.

I have spoke yesterday to Rob Anderson in the Highways Dept at Buckinghamshire County Council.  As the Highways Authority they have to approve the conning off of roads in the County.  He explained that the road in question is conned off periodically to facilitate a combined litter pick and grass cut.  He was not aware of any such action that had been scheduled for the 22/23rd September or indeed the cleanup which took place on the 27th.  He said that the central reservation was scheduled to be dealt with on 2nd November.

I am wondering therefore whether the clean up on the 27th September was not a hurried response the summons which was delivered on the 20th.   It seems strange that, having gone to the trouble of conning off the two lanes and picking the litter the grass was not cut.  To help clarify the facts could you please let me have a copy of the relevant Traffic Management Order.

I have shown below a timetable of events which I hope you will find helpful.

I wish to confirm that I do not intend to withdraw my summons and look forward to seeing you in court on 13th October.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Silverman

Timetable

25th May – Central reservation litter picked

13th July –  Schedule set to litter pick reservation again late on 22/23rd September ?

22nd July – S91 warning notice e-mailed to SBDC covering M40 J2 roundabout and A355

22nd July – Telcon between Ms Cullen and myself

27th July – 5 day notice period up

10th Aug – SBDC litter picked roundabout

31st Aug – Complaint submitted to Court

14th Sept – Summons received by me from Court

17th Sept – (Friday) wrong hearing date issue clarified by court

20th Sept – (Monday) summons delivered to SBDC

27th Sept – SBDC litter picked the central reservation

2nd Nov – Date of scheduled litter pick and grass cut according to Bucks CC
Claim for costs

£
Court Fee 200
Printing of Complaint 19
Petrol 2 return trips to H Wycombe (48 miles)
4 Photo trips to Beaconsfield (22 mile)
Total miles 184 / 8 litres per mile x£1 /litre 23
Total 242
 

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