Fringe Box



Letter: Clarification On Council’s Highways Cleaning And The Challenges Faced

Published on: 19 Feb, 2016
Updated on: 19 Feb, 2016

From Matt Furniss, Guildford Borough Council’s lead councillor for infrastructure and environment.

Thank you for the positive comments about our general work to keep our beautiful borough clean, it is much appreciated by us and our hard working teams. We are also very grateful for helping us to raise local awareness of Clean for the Queen in our borough.

Click here for the story The Dragon Says: Attention Needed At Litter ‘Grot Spots’ Volunteer Pickers Cannot Reach

Cllr Matt Furniss.

Cllr Matt Furniss.

The article highlighted particular areas of the A3. This road is difficult and dangerous to clean and unfortunately a small number of residents and visitors throw their rubbish from their windows along the road. In the article there are, however, a number of areas that need further clarification.

We are responsible for cleaning the A3. It is not under contract to Highways England. Highways England are the duty body for maintenance and repair and this has nothing to do with litter, although when the opportunity arises we do use their closures to carry out cleaning works.

The only exception to this is the A3 north of Ripley which was adopted by Highways England in 2009, for which we have no responsibilities and do not clean.

The nature of the A3 and the risks associated with cleaning it are such that there are significant regulatory and safety related restrictions.

Only last week there was a significant crash on the A3, in the vicinity of Painshill where a van crashed and flipped over the crash barrier.

Whilst there was no one working in the vehicle’s path, this serves as a timely reminder of the risks of working on this road, even in areas which may give the appearance of relative safety.

In the wider country, vehicle faults, crashes, loose materials or vehicle parts flying off the road, driver errors and negligence when operating on roads like this have led to many near misses, serious injuries and deaths to operatives and to the public from cleaning activities.

As a consequence we will only work on carriageways and slip roads on the A3 following a thorough risk assessment and in almost every circumstance will only work when our staff and the public are sufficiently warned and protected by appropriate traffic management.

We do clean roadside verges of the A3 regularly. We have carried out two closures this month, the last one being the night of February 17, and a further lane closure is planned for week commencing February 22.

A team of six cleaners worked on the 17th and were able to clear litter from nearside of the southbound A3 from Ripley to Clay Lane, a distance of nearly five miles. This team recovered two full transit loads of litter and debris weighing around 1000kg of litter and debris which is a staggering amount from only a five-mile stretch.

We operate under traffic management. We have no hard shoulders on our stretch of the A3 therefore have to close a lane to clean either the verges or central reserve.

We can generally attend to around 4km to 6km in a closure, depending on litter levels.

GBC logoWe are not allowed to do this in the day because of the impact on traffic flow along this key commuter route to London and the M25.

Therefore, we only operate at night under the protection of a mobile lane closure.

We have used static closures in the past, but these are relatively inefficient and are no longer used unless absolutely required for safety reasons.

Mobile closures are safe and allow a greater amount of cleaning than static closures. Our team has powerful lighting to aid them. Mobile lane closures cannot be used on single lane slip roads, so these are only done when there is a specific closure.

We regularly clean laybys, which are safe for us to enter and work without traffic management, as a result we can and do attend to these areas daily.

For this year we have a total of 22 mobile lane closures booked for the A3, which will cost approximately £50,000 to £55,000.

These will be focussed on areas needing cleaning based on inspection and public feedback.

Needless to say, this is an expensive task, but we carry out regular targeted cleaning of this road and our hard working teams work through the night to make this happen.

In addition to these closures, we will look to take opportunities that arise from maintenance and repair work undertaken by Highways England.

I hope this explains the challenges and clarifies how we overcome them. We are committed to keeping the A3 as clean as possible in a safe and responsible manner.

I hope this helped highlight the work that goes into keeping our borough clean and tidy for everyone to enjoy. Hopefully the minority who drop litter will think twice next time.

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