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President's update: 1st May

1 May 2020

The Prime Minister gave his first press briefing since coming back to work this week. With much speculation focused on what the plan for lifting lockdown might look like, many have been expecting to hear that at least some restrictions will be lifted soon. Competing views within the Cabinet have been labelled as hawks and doves, and there has been much anticipation about which way the Prime Minister will lean. 

As it turns out, the PM remains focused on following the science and the importance of keeping the reproduction number below R1, reaffirming the five tests for lifting lockdown. He confirmed that the Government will publish its plan for lifting lockdown next week, which will include the economy, schools and childcare, travel to work and workplace safety. All areas of supreme importance to the work of ADEPT members.

For ADEPT, one of the most pressing issues, and the subject of increasing media focus, has been fly-tipping and the opening or not of household waste recycling centres (HWRCs). Revised government guidance is expected next week, following a statement by Robert Jenrick (28 April). Councils are planning to open HWRCs, but it will not be a return to business as usual. Keeping that R figure down means maintaining social distancing and sticking to the limitations on essential travel. We will see some sites begin to reopen but the picture will not be the same across the country. Some sites will not be able to reopen until social distancing is removed, and those that do open will operate differently to how they have done in the past.

Our weekly waste survey continues to attract substantial media attention from trade outlets as well as national press. It is heartening that responding councils are reporting normal or minimal disruption to household waste collections and 98% recording similarly for recycling. 30% of bulky waste collections are operating normally, which is double that reported in the survey conducted w/c 30th March. 

The Highways Sector Council guidelines for the highways workforce have been published, following the letter from Transport Minister, Baroness Vere to everyone working in the highway construction and maintenance sector. Our social media campaign #HighwaysHeroes continues and please keep sending us your images, videos and case studies. We are continuing to collect information on changes to local authorities’ highways maintenance regimes – contact the ADEPT secretariat [email protected].

Similarly, our campaign to support our waste crews will go live next week. We have received fantastic images and stories from our members, please keep them coming. 

As I reported last week, place directors are also focused on how to support our places in the longer term. We want to look at how we support our local economies, enhance our digital infrastructure and ensure we don’t lose sight of climate change. Equally, the impacts for our high streets, infrastructure projects and access to green spaces are fundamental to our future place-shaping.

Finally, our Spring Conference on 21st May is moving online. We’ll be examining Covid-19’s continuing impacts and what the new normal might mean for our inclusive economy and climate change agendas. Sign up here.

Once again, a heartfelt thank you to our members, our essential workers and partners, to everyone who is contributing to keeping our communities and our places safe. Please keep checking our Covid-19 webpage for our latest information and stay safe everyone.