DEAR JEREMY Hunt MP I am writing to you about the deplorable state of our highways in this country.

Everywhere you drive you see damaged and abandoned orange road cones, on verges, in ditches and hedges, rusty A frames, sandbags and signs left all over the road network, after work has finished. The contractors do not clear up and remove this equipment – it just gets left for months on end and has reached epidemic proportions.

Not only do our neglected roads look ghastly and cluttered with junk and litter, the cost to the tax payer, via the costs charged by road contractor’s to the authorities, must be very high.

I am embarrassed by the state of the roads. There is litter of every description, plastic streamers of polythene, junk, wrappers and bottles from cars and builder’s waste everywhere. The lay-bys are often wrecked and full of garbage.

Drive down to Surrey along the A3, the A331 and A31 and you will be as shocked as I am every time I venture out. Combine that with road signs that are dirty, bent, parts fallen off, turned the wrong way, wonky, fallen over and lying on the grass verge, foliage obscuring signs – this whole system has become dysfunctional.

The contractors are not supervising their teams and the council’s and highway authorities are not supervising their contractors.

You only have to travel to many developed countries in Europe, Canada, Australia etc to find well cared for highways which are 99 per cent litter free. It is a disgrace that the Government is overseeing and allowing such a shambles.

Jeremy, you would not expect to go into your Ministerial Office and find dirty carpets, broken office equipment and damaged light fittings hanging down. Nor would you expect to find that in hospitals, shopping malls, restaurants or hotels.

But when it comes to highways we have to live with the effects of mismanagement, ineptitude and lazy bad habits, resulting in a truly shocking state of affairs.

Its time for a real shake up on highways and a genuine clean-up to give the public a road network they can be proud of which will encourage some of them to stop littering and trashing the road network.

Here are some suggested initiatives to turn this situation around:

* Apply a ‘take away tax’ to pay for the clean up. 1p on every take away item – the money strictly ring fenced to pay for road maintenance, repairs and cleaning.

* Dash-cam evidence – use a central website : to report rubbish and litter being dropped.

* Impose seriously heavy fines for littering from cars and items coming off flat bed commercial vehicles. Impound vehicles until fines are paid. Fly-tipping fines should be eye watering and the vehicles owned by the perpetrator crushed. No ifs – no buts.

* Ban retread tyres – they fail and many end up on the roadside.

* Regulate to require every type of caged vehicle and flat bed to use a tarp cover, with enforced stiff penalties for failing to use their load covers.

* Make highways authorities’ solely responsible for upkeep and maintenance including litter picking and verge cutting. This shouldn’t be diluted and put to borough councils to do. One co-ordinated and properly funded agency to manage the roads professionally.

* Erect regular repeat roadside signage to enable drivers to report damaged infrastructure, reminders of fines for littering and that dash cam evidence is being used.

* Either manage roads directly or put professional supervision of contractors with powers to make them do obvious repairs and fine them for under-performance.

I call on you as my MP, member of the cabinet and Chancellor, to get your colleagues around the table, to seriously engage with this before the roads get any worse.

Otherwise, overseas tourist advertising campaigns will be running messages like “ Visit Trash-Can Britain and Have The Laugh Of Your Lifetime” (at how a once proud nation lost its self respect).

The cost to the country in not tackling this issue is hundreds of millions of pounds every year and the cost to us the people who put up with this mess, in psychological terms, is incalculable. The environmental cost to our land and seas from the micro-plastic run-off is also beyond calculation.

Please let me know what this Government will do about it.

George Hesse

West Street, Farnham