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E-mail to Mike Penning 17th June 2011

On June 19, 2011, in Highways Agency, Mike Penning, by PeterSilverman

From: Peter Silverman []
Sent: 17 June 2011 16:25
To: Mike Penning (Under-secretary of State for Transport); ‘’
Cc: ‘Will Gates’; Nick Hurd (MP For Ruilsip Northwood)
Subject: Our Littered Motorways

Dear Mike,


Silverman vs Philip Hammond

Thank you for your letter of 7th June.  At the court hearing I made a statement withdrawing my complaint to facilitate the meeting with your officials.  I am very pleased to say that this has been arranged for 27th June when I will  be joined by a representative from the CPRE.  Thank you for arranging this.

Meeting with yourself

However, a meeting with the man at the top has been my objective since writing my report, “Our Littered Motorways” specifically for you.  Incidentally the Guardian, in reference to it, said “A consultant would have charged a lot for this”.  I expect to be even better informed on the issues following our meeting with your officials.  Where do we now stand on this?  You had indicated that you could not meet with me while any Litter Abatement Order complaint was ongoing in the courts. For the time being at least this is not the case.  Can I fix a time to meet with you and the CPRE in July?  Needless to say I want to minimise the time  I have to refrain from taking Mr Hammond to task in the courts.


I am most grateful for your continuing interest in our correspondence.  I appreciate of course that, to cope with your work load, you have to rely on advice from your staff in formulating and drafting your letters.  So, how can I put this delicately.  I feel obliged to say that I am concerned about some of the statements that have been made in them and I am wondering whether some of the advice you have received may not have been fully thought through.

The most obvious example is the statement in your letter of 17th January, in reference to litter clearance and keeping traffic moving on the motorways, that  “…… litter clearance inevitably requires the use of traffic management.”  As pointed out in my e-mail of 30th January the statement is simply wrong as most motorway verges (which is where the litter is) run alongside hard shoulders and are routinely and safely cleaned without traffic management.

Another example, seemingly, is in your letter to Nick Hurd MP of 31st March which says that the “Highways Agency has been in discussion with many of its managing agents with a view to improving  the appearance of motorway verges and slip roads, to ensure that the requirements of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 are met across the network”.  I made an information request to the Highways Agency for  copies of any documents relating to these discussions. My request and the  documents supplied can be seen at this link.  As you will see they are all low grade communications (e.g. Birchanger depot being asked to send an Incident Support Unit to J8/9 on the M11).  If serious discussions had taken place then surely there would be something on record.  As we all know, verbal communications are not worth the paper they are written on!

Is the Highways Agency taking motorway litter seriously?

The absence of any recorded discussions on the subject with their contractors would indicate that maybe they are not.  This is further supported by the fact that the topic is not mentioned in the Agency’s 36 page Business Plan published on 30th March.  Inputting “litter”, “cleaning” or “cleansing” in the pdf search facility produces no results.  Also, in their 85 page Annual Report, published in July 2010, these words were used once – but only in a summary of maintenance responsibilities. There is nothing in either document which recognises motorway litter as an issue.  I remain sceptical.

My e-mail of 11th April 2011

I think this e-mail may have been overlooked.  A response would be very much appreciated.


If you have a moment please have a look at my M40 J1 video.  It shows what is going wrong, and more importantly if you see it through to the end, exactly why it is going wrong.

Thank you again for your time and  I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Peter Silverman
(Phone number removed)



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