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Remember this video:

Colin Davidge reported (17th Jan 2017) that:

“I drove past it today first time this year and lo and behold they have closed it off completely to traffic by installing a crash barrier along the full length of the layby..”

HE, or their DBFO contractor Connect Plus, have decided that, to avoid having to maintain and clean this lay-by, they are going to close it down.

Last year they closed another lay-by on the same side of the road but further into London.

Lay-bys fulfill a purpose. They give drivers a place to rest and check their vehicles. It gives responsible lorry drivers a chance to clean out their cabs and put their rubbish in the bins provided. But this means attending to the bins and litter picking on a regular basis which Connect Plus are clearly not willing to do.

In anticipation of this I had written to Nick Harris, HE’s Operations Director on 15th Dec 2016 saying

“Can Connect Plus close these lay-bys without your approval?  Can you put a stop on this while the full implications are considered?”

No response has been forthcoming.

I wrote to Philip Rutnam, then Permanent Secretary at the DfT, with a copy to Nick Harris, on 1st March 2017 saying: Can you please tell me what process has to be gone through before a lay-by can be closed down and
was it adhered to in this case and who made the decision?

I received a reply on 27th March 2017 from the DfT in which they wrote:

Closures of the laybys were approved by Highways England, Essex Police and Thurrock Council as the decision to close the lay-bys was seen as the only option in which to combat the high levels of waste and fly tipping that was occurring. The risk to Public Health due to human waste being deposited in the lay-bys and the miss-use of the lay-bys as an unauthorised lorry park, had led to safety concerns for the travelling public.

Consideration was given to alternative welfare areas and it was the view of both Highways England and Thurrock Council that there was ample provision, via the many service areas and truck stops situated within Thurrock.

The closure of lay-bys is seen as the last resort and would only be considered if no alternative course of action was seen as having an effect and only where there are alternative arrangements for welfare.

The implication was that he closures had been approved by the DfT.

However when I made an information request for copies the relevant documents, tI was told that”The DfT does not hold this information“.

I have also comer across this article on the Borough of Thurrock web site. They had decided to close another lay-by on the A13 just to the east of the junction with the A1089, Unlike the other two it was not part of the HE network and responsibility for cleansing lay with Thurrock.

 

Cllr Brian Little, Highways and Transport Portfolio Holder at Thurrock Counci is quoted as saying: “We should not have to ask our teams to clear up – at tax payer expense – the sorts of things that can be left in these places and nor should we as a council provide places for people to trade without paying tax or rent, whether they are licensed or not”

It looks to me hat both HE and Thurrock decided to close these lay-bys because they could not be bothered to comply with their statutory duty to keep them clean without due consideration being given to the loss of a valuable amenity for drivers.

Read previous posts on A13 lay-bys

 

Peter Silverman
11th September 2017

 

 

 

 

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