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Summary

Three and a half years after the Litter Strategy promise to:

  1. Publish cleanliness reviews of HE trunk roads (APTRs) by local authority.
  2. Set a deadline for underperforming authorities to improve their performance and
  3. Reallocate responsibility for cleaning away from failing local authorities to Highways England.

and, almost 3 years after the survey was carried out, the results have not been published, no deadlines have been set nor any responsibilities reallocated

Instead we are told “The results have been shared with relevant local authorities and will be used in policy development”.

Detail

The April 2017 Litter Strategy for England says on p58:

The Government will commission and publish an independent assessment of road cleanliness and publish cleanliness reviews by authority …. We will then set a deadline for underperforming authorities to improve their performance within this Parliament.

We also propose to reallocate responsibility for managing relevant cleaning activities from any local authority that is not fulfilling its statutory duties on the road network.

It is clear from the second paragraph above that they were talking about assessing those All Purpose Trunk Roads on the Highways England network where the relevant local authority, not HE, had the statutory duty to keep them clear of litter.

The survey was carried out by KBT in January and February 2018. 18months later in September 2019 follow up letters and questionnaires were sent to the surveyed councils.

In July 2020 DEFRA Minister, Rebecca Pow stated:

In 2018, Defra commissioned an independent survey of roadside litter on those parts of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) where Highways England is responsible for maintenance but the local authority is responsible for clearing litter. The results have been shared with relevant local authorities and will be used in policy development.

Following my information request DEFRA refused to release copies of the communications with the relevant local authorities. I was sent a copy of the raw spreadsheet data from the survey with the column showing the relevant local authority redacted.

In response to my appeal on 6th November 2020 a DEFRA officer wrote that:

I consider that local authorities would not have expected us to publish or release their results until the questionnaires had been analysed and conclusions drawn. As this has created an expectation of confidentiality, combined with the necessary quality of confidence of the information, it means that Defra has a duty of confidence in relation to these proceedings. Please note that we are in the process of this analysis at present, having been delayed by departmental reprioritisation.

So  three and a half years after the Litter Strategy promise to (1) publish cleanliness reviews by local authority (2) set a deadline for underperforming authorities to improve their performance and (3) reallocate responsibility for cleaning away from failing local authorities to Highways England zero progress has been made.

The survey results have not been published. Instead of using them to  reallocated responsibilities from failing local authorities to Highways England the results “will be used in policy development”.

My e-mail to the DEFRA’s Permanent Secretary

Complaint to Information Commissioner

 

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