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In 2017 Dover submitted a proposal to the Local Government Association to lobby the government to transfer the cleaning of Highways England trunk roads from councils to Highways England.

Link to section of LGA minutes from which the following paragraphs have been extracted:

The Board will receive a presentation from Dover District Council, which is seeking support from the Board for legislative changes that would remove their responsibility to keep trunk roads free from litter. 

The LGA was approached by Dover District Council in relation to councils’ responsibilities for clearing litter on Highways England trunk roads, with a motion for consideration by the LGA General Assembly. The motion was endorsed by members of the East Kent Regeneration Board, which includes Dover, Ashford, Canterbury, Shepway, Thanet and Kent County Council, although concerns are shared by other councils across the country

  1. LGA officers are aware from other areas that one significant factor is the cost of traffic management for what are high traffic volume routes. For example: 
    1. 2.3.1  Councils have to liaise with Highways England, or whoever is managing their roads on their behalf, in order to cooperate on road safety (e.g. in closing down lanes for cleaning) and are charged significant costs for assistance in putting in place traffic controls. 
    2. 2.3.2  Cleaning operations are usually limited to night time working only which means councils have to make plans to adjust routine maintenance schedules as work can only be done at night or early morning on weekends. 
    3. 2.3.3  Access to the central reservation is a big challenge – usually necessitating lanes to be closed off which requires work at night or early morning at weekends. 

3. LGA’s written submission to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry on Waste Crime in May 2015 called for: 

3.1. The road closure function of the Highways Agency to be combined with that of clearance. It would enable a more consistent approach along the length of a particular road, rather than just the section within a council area. Also, a single body with a national focus would also have a more effective role on prevention through sole responsibility for campaigns to reduce highway littering from vehicles. 

6. Highways England are aware of the issue and LGA officials understand that there is guidance to be issued to HE regional service teams to facilitate their working with local authority teams, although it is not clear what impact this will have in practice. Defra have set up a working group to look at vehicle littering as part of their work to develop a new national Litter Strategy, expected early in 2017. The working group are looking at existing good practice in partnership working, including the East Midlands. 

Draft motion for LGA General Assembly – July 2017 

2. The operational impact of this arrangement is that the simple designation of the road can mean that the burden and cost of keeping the highway and adjacent verges clear of litter on the strategic road network falls unfairly on some local authorities. For example within Kent responsibility for cleaning the M2 and M20 rests with Highways England acting on behalf of the Secretary of State whereas cleaning the A2 and A20, both strategic dual carriageways leading to Dover, become the responsibility of the individual authorities concerned. 

3. It is proposed that the LGA should lobby Government to require them to amend the legislation and place the duty to keep land and highways clear of litter on all trunk roads with the Secretary of State alone. 

Peter Silverman
24th June 2019


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