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President's update: 16th April

16 April 2020

I hope you all managed to get some respite over the Easter weekend. It’s been a strange one this year. It is no surprise to anyone that the decision from government this week is to maintain the lockdown. Reports vary as to when we will see the peak, but there is no doubt that the public response to the Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives campaign has been far better than anticipated and we seem to be flattening the curve. This is undoubtedly positive news, but we still have a while to go.

For ADEPT, a new normal is beginning to emerge as we continue to work with the Department for Transport and the Highways Sector Council (HSC) monitoring the impacts on the sector. The HSC has written to the Transport Secretary outlining the ‘offers and asks’ from the sector along with safety operating procedures written specifically for highways workers. These will be published shortly. Our social media campaign #HighwaysHeroes will start to go live this week as we celebrate the work of our highways teams who are keeping our roads maintained. We are continuing to collect information on changes to local authorities’ highways maintenance regimes – contact the ADEPT secretariat [email protected].

We are looking at a similar campaign for our waste crews who are defying the odds to keep disruption to our waste and recycling services to a minimum. We have had over 250 local authorities take part in these weekly surveys and I want to thank them for taking the time to send in their responses, the information really is invaluable. For w/c 6th April, 99% of responding councils are continuing to collect residual waste normally or with only minor disruption, and 98% for recycling collections. There has also been a heartening reduction in staff absences due to Covid-19. The recent guidance issued by Defra with regards to Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) went against our advice that travel to your local HWRC is not essential. We are monitoring reported increases in fly tipping via the waste surveys. To date, the picture is mixed across the country and crews are out dealing with it as normal. The survey data is available on the ADEPT website here

The data from the first public rights of way survey is being analysed as I write. Rights of Way officers across the country have provided us with information on the current pressures on rights of way and the results will be posted onto the ADEPT website soon.  Again, I’d like to thank them for their time. We have set up an area on our home page specifically for our Covid-19 work, so check it regularly for news and updates.

As always, I want to send my thanks to all our essential workers and partners for their continuing hard work and support. We are increasingly seeing colleagues being redeployed to all types of frontline work and I want to pay tribute to their dedication. Stay safe everyone.