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My attention has been drawn to two Highways England freedom of information responses. The first was of 18th May 2018.

In it HE wrongly describe their statutory duty as being to “collect litter” and not one of “ensuring their highways are kept clear of litter”

They correctly state: “Our maintenance contracts are structured so that our service providers are paid a ‘lump sum’ for a wide range of general maintenance duties such as general repairs, cleaning duties (including litter picking) and repairing potholes. These activities are performed on both a routine and ad-hoc basis to meet contractual requirements. We do not disaggregate the budget and spend on the individual types of activities and so exact costs for litter picking cannot be provided”.

Yet DEFRA Minister Therese Coffey claimed that HE spend at least £6 million pa on collecting litter from their network.

The second one was dated 3rd April 2019 in answer to Ashrat Begun.

In answer to the question about how often they cleaned the motorways they answered in terms of complying with the Litter Code of Practices last resort response times. Again there is no reference to their statutory duty.

The letter goes on to say that: “To comply with our obligations, our service providers undertake general maintenance inspections along the motorways on a daily or weekly basis. From these inspections, they make arrangements to clear the litter within the time scales required by the code of practice”.

If you believe that you can believe anything.

In answer to the question Are they (i.e. their contractors) complying with the contract? They answered “Yes”.

So all of that litter is a figment of our imagination.

Peter Silverman
16th April 2019


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