Baroness Vere sends letter of support to highways sector

 

Roads minister Baroness Vere has written to the highways sector calling on it to keep working through the crisis and sending an emotional thanks for their efforts.

Baroness Vere (pictured) also addressed the worrying reports of road crews receiving while working. She said: 'I very much regret that some of you have received abuse from a small minority of members of the public while carrying out your work.

”Local
 

'This kind of behaviour is unwarranted and completely unacceptable, and those highways colleagues who have been affected have my full support and gratitude for maintaining your professionalism.'

The letter, which has been seen by Transport Network, is being circulated by the council directors body ADEPT, as well as professional bodies such as the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), the Institute of Highway Engineers, the Road Safety Treatments Association (RSTA) and the Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG) and the Local Government Technical Advisers Group (LGTAG).

The transport minister wrote: 'The current Government advice for the housing, construction, building, highways maintenance and street works sector, including supply chains, is if staff who are in the office side of the authority or your contractors can work from home, then they should do so.

'For operatives who are required to work outside, either undertaking condition surveys, pothole and other repairs, including planned maintenance and construction works, then they should continue to do so. It is vital they continue to heed Public Health England guidance on social distancing with plans in place to follow the advice.

'Despite the many obstacles authorities and contractors are experiencing because of COVID-19, it is important that local highway authorities, those associated with highway infrastructure maintenance and construction works, road network surveyors, and the wider supply chain, including builders' merchants and asphalt plants, all work together to help improve and upgrade our highway networks for all road users.'

She also highlighted the ADEPT and Highway Sector Council guidance to help the sector operate safely and effectively while continuing with daily business.

'This guidance can be read alongside the Construction Industry Council safety operating procedures or separately.'

Baroness Vere also gave an impassioned thanks to the roads sector for its continuing hard work despite the risks at this time of crisis.

'We are relying on an army of workers in many different industries to keep public services running and meet the needs of the country. In particular, I want to thank the thousands of highways maintenance and construction workers, and the streetworks operatives, who are all vital to the resilience of our road network.

'You are doing an outstanding job under extremely challenging circumstances. Thanks to your dedication and commitment, the strategic and local road networks remain open. And as a result, crucial supplies of food, life-saving medicines, fuel and other goods can move around the country, while health and other emergency workers can travel to where they are needed most.'

John Lamb, immediate past President of LGTAG, has called for local authorities to take whatever opportunities they can as a result of the open roads.

He also suggested early on that the government should recognise the importance of the supply chain as well as front line staff in keeping the road industry running, which the Baroness' letter does.

In response to the letter, he said: 'By working across counties, metropolitan and unitary councils a clear message has been heard by colleagues in the Department for Transport.

'At times like this we are having to 'run to a standstill' and while this can never be described as 'business as usual' it is clear that where we can provide appropriate safe distancing, there is every expectation that councils, contractors and their supply chains deliver the best highways service they can across planned, preventative and reactive maintenance.'

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