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President's update: 24th April

24 April 2020

Much media attention has been turning towards what coming out of lockdown will look like. Questions are being asked of the Government to lay out its strategy as Nicola Sturgeon has set out for Scotland. Similarly, local authorities have been considering what easing of lockdown restrictions might look like and what kind of impact this will have on our services. We’ve started to ask questions about the renewal of places and our local economies and how as place directors, we can provide leadership and thinking on how our places can work differently.

One of the most talked about issues for place directors this week has been the issue of reopening household waste recycling centres. We’ve been in an ongoing dialogue with Defra, which I’m glad to say has led to some shifting of ground. We’ve been concerned at the blurring of the ‘essential journeys only’ public messaging, as well as the safety of our teams as they try to maintain social distancing and the build-up of congestion around sites. I’m pleased to say we are making progress on how local authorities will be able to manage the reopening of some sites and for what purposes.

Our social media campaign #HighwaysHeroes has gone live with a big thank you to all members who have been sharing images, videos and case studies that we will be using across the coming weeks. Our work with the Highways Sector Council continues and we hope to be able to publish highways specific operating guidelines in the next few days. We are continuing to collect information on changes to local authorities’ highways maintenance regimes – contact the ADEPT secretariat [email protected].

We will shortly be asking for similar social media content from our waste crews. Anyone wanting an idea of what they’ve been up to should take a look at this from Wolverhampton here. We’ve been continuing our waste surveys and the results from w/c 14th April are really encouraging. 99% of responding councils are continuing to collect residual waste normally or with only minor disruption, and 97% for recycling collections. The continuing reduction in staff absences due to Covid-19 is good news and crews are increasing their efforts to tackle fly-tipping. The survey data is available on the ADEPT website here

The results of our first public rights of way survey has been published here. Rights of Way officers across the country have described the pressures. Over 75% of responding councils are reporting some impact, with 15% saying there has been a major disruption to services. Overwhelmingly, this is because staff are being redeployed and resources reallocated to essential frontline and new services. 82% of councils predict a 20% increase in the number of rights of way networks in their area becoming impassable.

Please keep checking our Covid-19 webpage for our latest information. 

As usual, I want to sign off by sending my thanks to all our essential workers and partners for their continuing hard work and support and for our members who continue to respond to our please to complete surveys and provide information. The data you provide is invaluable. Stay safe everyone.