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A27 – a Highways England trunk road cleaned by 7 different councils

On September 17, 2018, in APTRs, Highways England, by PeterSilverman
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Chichester, Arun, Worthing, Adur, Brighton & Hove, Lewes & Wealden

a27-map
Chichester, Arun, Worthing, Adur, Brighton & Hove, Lewes & Wealden

 

Cleansing of HE trunk roads (APTRS) – transfer of responsibility to HE – Evidence from Councils

On September 13, 2018, in APTRs, Highways England, Local Authorities, by PeterSilverman
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Evidence from Chichester Chichester City Council are one of several councils along the south coast who each have to clean their section of the A27.  Chief Executive, Diane Shepherd says, in reference to my proposal : I fully agree with this approach.  This would generate obvious logistical and financial efficiencies She also said that  her […]

Evidence from Chichester

Chichester City Council are one of several councils along the south coast who each have to clean their section of the A27.  Chief Executive, Diane Shepherd says, in reference to my proposal :

I fully agree with this approach.  This would generate obvious logistical and financial efficiencies

She also said that  her council  does not receive any specific funding for cleaning their section the A27.  It would seem therefore that no adjustments in funding would be required.

Evidence from Warwickshire

Sean Lawson Head of Environmental Services at Rugby Borough Council, a member of the Warwickshire Waste Partnership, was questioned by Simon Danczuk MP in November 2014 at the Communities and Local Government Commons Select Committee hearing into Litter:

Q89 Simon Danczuk: ….How do you work with the Highways Agency in terms of ensuring that motorway trunk roads are kept clean?

Sean Lawson: We find it a nightmare

Simon Danczuk: Why is that?

Sean Lawson: It is because they do not communicate with us. They produce a wonderful glossy strategy document that says how they will work with local authorities, but we get very little engagement. We find that there is a road closure on by travelling down the road. We could have done a lot of work. We arrange with them to go out and do work when they have road closures on, and they don’t turn up. I have two or three crews out there at midnight waiting to clean a highway and they are not there.

Simon Danczuk: They are just wasting council tax payers’ money.

Sean Lawson: Yes

Evidence from Tendring

Here is a quote from Tendring District Council in reference to the A120, the strategic link into Harwich.

I can confirm that I have emailed and left voice messages with the highways contractor carrying out the roadworks along the A120 with the intention of litter picking the central reservation at night whilst the road closures were in place, our contractors have provided me with costs and manpower for the job. Unfortunately , despite several efforts I have not received any communication back and without their consent and permission our contractors can not carry out these works (6th Feb 2017)

Evidence from Northampton

This article from the Northampton Chronicle  shows (1)  just how  littered these roads can become  and (2) how poor the co-ordination between HE’s contractors and the council can be. The former coned off lanes to carry out tree cutting without making sure the council took the opportunity of removing the litter.

Evidence from Guildford (A3)

In response to a complaint from Steve Collins Guildford Borough Council stated (11/01/2018)

‘As this is a high speed road it can only be cleaned when we have road closure in place. We have got closures booked for the A3 but we will not know the exact area that we can clean until the contractors tell us. The cleaning depends on a lot of factors but traffic count and weather are just two, we never know about these until the actual time and cleaning can be halted at any time.’

Evidence from Stockton / A66

Article inNorthern Echo  Responsibility for cleansing this HE trunk road (APTR)  lies with the local authorities contrary to the statements made by the council.  The article demonstrates beautifully the problems of separating the responsibility for cleansing from other maintenance work.

Evidence from Brighton / Lewes – A27

From Amanda Flude 25th March 2018 :   I drove the length of the A27 between Shoreham and Lewes yesterday and found the state of the verges quite distressing. It is the worst I have ever seen it…….. As mentioned below much of the debris has obviously been there for many months and has become tangled in the undergrowth; there is everything from old traffic cones and plastic sheeting, to bags of rubbish and general litter, what is so appalling is the sheer amount of rubbish!

Evidence from North East Lincs

Tony Blake details his successful campaign to get the local authority to carry out their statutory duty to clean the A180. This Highways Agency road links Grimbsy with the M180. Action was taken only after threat of legal action and intervention of councillor. Read more here.

Evidence from other councils

Councils unaware of their responsibilities

Please refer to this post of 2014: Councils unaware of responsibility to clean trunk roads and motorway roundabouts

 

Peter Silverman
13th October 2018

 

George Niblock takes his Council to court over litter

On September 7, 2018, in EPA S91 Litter Abatement Orders, Scotland, by PeterSilverman
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George Niblock hasten Aberdeenshire Council to court over litter under EPA S91

My alter ego in Scotland George Niblock of the Aberdeenshire Litter Initiative has taken Aberdeenshire Council to court under EPA S91

Click on the article below to see it in its entirety.

Good luck George!

Peter Silverman
7th September 2018

 

M25 Contract – no financial penalties applied for failing to meet target levels of cleanliness

On September 1, 2018, in Area 5, Highways England, M25, by PeterSilverman
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No financial penalties applied to contractor for failing to meet target levels of cleanliness

M40 J1, A405 and A13 all supposedly cleaned by Connect Plus M25 Ltd on behalf of Highways England

On 6th March 2018 in response to an enquiry of 14th February about Highways England’s Area 5 contract with  Connect Plus (M25) Ltd I was told 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.

On 11th June 2018 I submitted a Freedom of Information inquiry to HE asking in respect to the M25 contract area  for the total penalties applied over the previous 4 years and how much was in respect to litter clearance.

My request and the subsequent correspondence can be seen here

1,021 performance points had been allocated in the 4 years.  Three of these were for litter – all of which were in 2017/18.

They refused to supply the total financial penalties saying that their contractor would be resistant to releasing the information.

No information was provided about any financial penalties applied as a result of their “environmental litter tours” presumably because there had been  none – making a complete mockery of the whole process.

In 2012 I had criticised the efficacy  of these Environmental Amenity Index Audits.

Peter Silverman
1st September 2018

 

HE contractor litter picking on M40

On August 2, 2018, in Highways England, M40, by PeterSilverman
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August 1st 2018 taken from my dash cam footage. Peter Silverman 2nd August 2018  

August 1st 2018 taken from my dash cam footage.

Peter Silverman
2nd August 2018

 

 

Litter Debate in Westminster Hall – 18th July 2018

On July 23, 2018, in Parliament, by PeterSilverman
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… we need to ​address the problem of divided responsibilities and introduce clearer lines of accountability

The debate had been instigated by Theresa Villiers MP

Read the debate in Hansard

In the meantime here are some snippets and [comment from me] 

Theresa Villiers MP:

… If we are to tackle the litter that we can see through our car or bus windows every day, we need to address the problem of divided responsibilities and introduce clearer lines of accountability. That point was made by Peter Silverman of the Clean Highways campaign, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for the briefing he provided for the debate and for his determined work to highlight these important matters.

… Will the Government consider reforming the law to provide that the body responsible for maintaining a road and the roadside is also the one tasked with clearing litter from that roadside? In particular, that reform would mean that Highways England had an increased duty to clear the litter around all the roads for which it is responsible, and it would make it much easier to combine work such as trimming roadside vegetation with litter picking, so clearance could take place more regularly and efficiently.

…. Section 89 of the 1990 Act imposes a statutory duty on Highways England and local authorities to clear litter and refuse from roads where they are the designated authority.  [What a pity TV did not say that the duty was to ensure, so far as was practicable, that the roads were kept clear of litter and refuse. Just saying it is to “clear” litter implies this can be done as and when the duty body gets round to it].

… a significant proportion of it will have blown off skip vans or lorries with open loads.a significant proportion of it will have blown off skip vans or lorries with open loads. I urge both the Environment Agency and Highways England to give higher priority to prosecuting that kind of waste crime.

…. it is also important to note that there is a shortage of overnight provision for HGV drivers, and finding more space for those kinds of facilities—including, of course, litter bins and waste disposal facilities—is an important part of a strategy to tackle roadside litter.

….. Fly-tipping is a serious crime that enrages those constituents affected by it. I believe that the police and prosecution authorities, including the Environment Agency, should pursue offenders more vigorously and seek the maximum penalties available for that crime.

 Therese Coffey MP Under- secretary of State at DEFRA

…. Dealing with litter is costly. In 2016-17, local authorities spent £682 million, or £29 per household, to keep our streets clean. In addition, Highways England spends at least £6 million a year on collecting litter from the strategic road network. Those funds could be better used to deliver the range of important services provided by our councils. [Council spending on street cleaning has fallen by 26%] 

.…The big change has been to make the owner, or more precisely the keeper, of a vehicle liable for littering offences committed from it, although I recognise that this power has already been in place in London councils for some time. However, I understand that only one London council uses it, and that is Wandsworth and not, sadly, Barnet.

Jonathan Lord MP

…. Does the Minister have a strong view as to the division of responsibility between Highways England and local councils? Local councils are ultimately responsible to their electorate. Ideally, I think Highways England should be responsible, but I wonder who is marking the organisations’ homework and what mechanisms we have for checking they are doing their job properly.

Therese Coffey MP 

… However, to respond to one of the questions my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet  [Theresa Villiers] asked, we are not considering changing the law or the responsibilities at this time. [Big admission that the government intend to do nothing about transferring the responsibility for cleansing HE’s trunk roads from councils to HE]

…Highways England has removed more than 12,000 bags of litter in the past year from the 25 identified hotspots. It found that, for February to April 2017, customer reports of littering had reduced by 70%, as compared with the same period in 2016.  [But the statutory duty is not to allow large accumulations of litter to build up before removing them.  Also if you believe reports of littering have fallen by 70% them you will believe anything]

…..Highways England has also been working to improve collaboration between its contractors and local authorities, including by enabling local authority litter pickers to access roads for which they are responsible while Highways England has closed them for routine maintenance, which makes it easier to clean high-speed roads. [But they have been saying this for decades. HE should clean all of their network themselves obviating the need for any co-ordination with councils].

Peter Silverman
23rd July 2018

 

 

Litter Code of Practice 2018 – Scotland

On July 17, 2018, in Litter Code of Practice, by PeterSilverman
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Litter Code of Practice 2018 – Scotland  

Gov.policy: Dumb down Highways England’s statutory duty – more evidence

On July 9, 2018, in DEFRA, DfT, Highways England, Legislation, Litter Code of Practice, by PeterSilverman
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Please refer to Gov. policy: Ignore or dumb down the statutory duty on litter On page 9 of the Fly-tipping responsibilities: Guide for local authorities and land managers  it says: “Under Part 4 of EPA 90 “principal litter authorities” must ensure, so far as is practicable, clearance of litter and refuse from “relevant land””. See e-mail of […]

Please refer to Gov. policy: Ignore or dumb down the statutory duty on litter

On page 9 of the Fly-tipping responsibilities: Guide for local authorities and land managers  it says: “Under Part 4 of EPA 90 “principal litter authorities” must ensure, so far as is practicable, clearance of litter and refuse from “relevant land””. See e-mail of 12th April 2017 to DEFRA

DEFRA wrote in an e-mail to Alice Blogg of 30th Jan 2018 : As you are aware, Highways England (formerly the Highways Agency) is responsible for clearing litter from motorways and some trunk roads, while councils remain responsible for the cleaning of other, more minor roads.

In reply to her e-mail to Lord Gardiner DEFRA wrote to Sally Hart onthe 20th April 2018  saying: Highways England (formerly the Highways Agency) is responsible for clearing litter from motorways and some trunk roads, while councils remain responsible for the cleaning of other, more minor roads

In an e-mail to Sarah Crawford HE stated that under the EPA they are responsible for the removal of litter.

HE wrote to Simon Guise saying: Highways England is responsible for the maintenance and stewardship of motorways and trunk roads in England however the responsibility for litter collection on trunk roads falls with the local authority.

HE wrote in a letter of 19th April 2018 to a complainant: Secondly, there are time and cost considerations which need to be taken into account This is obviously important when there are safety risks, but it is also important in terms of ensuring the the most efficient use of resources. The latter, for example, will tend to favour carrying out litter and refuse clearance at a particular location as part of a programme of routine maintenance rather than as a separate exercise. This reflects the DEFRA Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse with which we look to comply.

DEFRA wrote to Nigel Hawkey in an e-mail of 19th June 2018 that “Local councils are responsible for keeping their relevant land clear of litter and refuse” which is consistent with the statutory duty. However, later in the same letter they say that Highways England are “responsible for clearing litter from motorways and some trunk roads”.

Peter Silverman
19th July 2018

 

Litter enforcement links from DEFRA

On June 20, 2018, in DEFRA, Fixed Penalty Notices, Litter fines, Local Authorities, by PeterSilverman
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Consultation document – Reducing litter; Proportionate enforcement644.7 kB (PDF document) The Environmental Offences (Fixed Penalties) (England) Regulations 2017 The Littering from Vehicles Outside London (Keepers: Civil Penalties) Regulations 2018 Fixed penalty notices: issuing and enforcement by councils Enforcement officers: issuing fixed penalty notices Statutory guidance to local authorities on the civil enforcement of parking contraventions […]

Pointless DEFRA publication – spurious HE figures quoted as fact

On June 20, 2018, in DEFRA, Highways England, Litter Strategy, by PeterSilverman
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No mention of fall in spending on street cleaning Spurious Highways England figures given credence by DEFRA Research and analysis – Litter and littering in England 2016 to 2017 – Published 12 February 2018 This seems to be a pointless document. It is largely about measuring litter. But what is the point? We know there is […]

No mention of fall in spending on street cleaning

Spurious Highways England figures given credence by DEFRA

Research and analysis – Litter and littering in England 2016 to 2017 – Published 12 February 2018

This seems to be a pointless document.

It is largely about measuring litter. But what is the point? We know there is a massive problem but nothing meaningful seems to be being done to remedy the problem – just more reports, strategy documents etc – like this one.

Street cleaning expenditure by councils

The report states that local authorities spent £682 million on street cleaning in 2016/17

What it does not say is that this was a fall of 12% on the previous year and a further fall is budgeted for the current year.  Read more here

Spending by Highways England

It goes on to say “In addition Highways England spends at least £6 million a year on collecting litter from the Strategic Road Network”

This implies there is some purposeful, costed and controlled activity going on which is simply not the case.

While the DfT of course provides Highways England with funding to cover or maintenance work no specific amount is identified as being for litter collection.  HE follow the same procedure with their contractors. HE do not therefore know how much they are paying them for litter collection.

The contractors in turn do not know how much they are spending as they do not employ dedicated staff to carry out litter collection. As one depot manager described it to me litter-picking was as a fill-in job that their skilled staff carried out when they had nothing else to do.

The figure of £6.0 million I suspect is based on multiplying the number of bags of litter collected pa of 200,000 by a cost per bag of £30. But where has this cost/bag – its often quoted as £40 – come from. HE simply asked their contractors how much they thought they were spending on litter picking and then divided this by the number of bags collected.  In other words the £6.0 million  is simply a figure off the top of the heads of the contractors!

Peter Silverman
20th June 2018