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M40 J1, A405 and A13 all supposedly cleaned by Connect Plus M25 Ltd on behalf of Highways England Click above to enlarge picture

The maintenance of the M25 and some trunk roads linked to it (HE Area 5)  is contracted out by Highways England Connect Plus (M25) Ltd.

See M25 Audit Office reveals PFI contractors super profits

On 6th March 2018 Highways England explained that:

The contract was performance based which meant that there were penalties in either a financial form or through the allocation of performance points were applied  if standards were not up held.

In regard to litter I was told that HE monitored Connect Plus’ performance by carrying out Environmental litter tours with them during which the state of the network was  scored and compared with target levels of cleanliness  detailed in their Maintenance and Operations Environmental Management Plan.

Under the contract Connect Plus have to carry out “minor repairs to all elements of the Project Facilities, cleansing, verge and horticultural maintenance and Winter and Severe Weather Service and inspections and surveys associated with any of the foregoing’.

On 11th June 2018 I submitted a Freedom of Information inquiry to HE asking for, inter alia, the total financial penalties applied over the previous 4 years and how much was in respect to litter clearance.

9 months later on 6th March 2019  HE conceded that no financial penalties whatsoever had been applied in the 4 year period which meant none had been applied for litter clearance.

Evidence of blatant contractor underperformance 2014 -2108

All of these locations are in M25 Area 5 and are shown on this map.

  1. 2012 – 2019 Denham Roundabout M40 J1 – contractor failings
  2. February 2018 – A40 off-Slip and lay-by video.
  3.  March 2017 – A1089 Tilbury approach Councillor slams Highways England over filthy lay-bys
  4. September 2016- A13 –Wennington junction 
  5. September 2016 – A13 lay-by (video)
  6. 2017 – A405 Herts 
  7. April 2017 – A13, A1089, and J3 all declared litter hot-spots by Highways England

Minister urged to act

I  wrote to roads minister Jesse Norman MP on 20th March 2019 asking him to demand that Highways England seek compensation for the above contractual failures – plus any others they can identify – and implement a meaningful contract management regime for the future.

I pointed out to him that in 2018 the Audit Office estimated that we were due to pay this contractor a further £8 billion up to the end of the contract in 2040 and that we need to make sure we get what we are paying for.

My e-mail was forward to the National Audit Office and to Jenny (Baroness) Randerson, the Lib Dem Lords Spokesperson on Transport who immediately submitted a written question in the Lords asking what steps the government were taking to ensure that HE were enforcing their contract with Connect Plus with regard to litter

I received responses from Highway England’s M25 Manager on 12th April and the DfT on the 18th April. Jenny Randerson received a reply to her written question on 23rd April. The issues I had raised were also referred to in a letter from Jesse Norman to Robert Halfon MP of 7th May.

No financial penalties after all

In short we were told that no financial penalties of any kind (not just in respect to litter) and had ever been applied to Connect Plus and that there was no mechanism for do doing.

More mis-information from HE & DEFRA

A new piece of mis-information has however been put forward, namely that the monthly Environment Audits carried out in Area 5 enabled HE to identify failures to by Connect Plus to collect litter within the timescales set out in the DEFRA Code of Practice on litter.

I wrote to the DfT on 15th May, with a copy to Jesse Norman, pointing out that this was not the case and the statements made to myself, Lord Randerson and Robert Halfon MP had therefore been misleading.

M25 contract – litter picking

M25 contact in full

Denham roundabout map showing it is part of M25 contract

Peter Silverman
16th May  2019

 

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