Association for Public Service Excellence
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Composting, shredding and chipping operations parks and open spaces - GM0335/251113
This local authority would like to find out if other councils are carrying out composting, shredding or chipping operations in their parks and open spaces. They would particularly like to know:

  • The scale and type of operations
  • Whether the output material is used within the borough (effectively 'closing the loop')
  • Licensing implications

Wet weather working - GM0331/301013
This Authority is looking at wet weather working arrangements within the Parks sector and would appreciate feedback from how other authorities operate in wet weather.

They would be grateful for feedback on the following:

  • Do the staff work in all weather conditions?
  • What type of additional PPE is provided?
  • Do staff receive enhanced payments for working in wet weather?
  • Has there been an increase in sickness or accidents in those local authorities where wet weather working has been introduced?

Managing Japanese Knotweed and other non-invasive plants - GM0332/311013
This local authority wishes to know how other local authorities manage invasive non-native plants on their land and in particular Japanese Knotweed.

  • What is the scale of the problem within your local authority - for example, how many enquiries does it generate per year?
  • Can you provide an annual financial figure spent on the control of Japanese Knotweed or on all non-native plants?
  • Is the control of Japanese Knotweed done in-house or externally contracted?

Standard rates for grounds maintenance activity- time and cost – GM0330
This local authority is currently reviewing their grounds maintenance costs and would be interested in hearing from colleagues about standard rates used for grounds maintenance activity in terms of standard lengths of time an operative can do a certain activity and the cost (per hour/day etc) to carry out these operations. In particular this local authority would like to hear from others on the standard time and cost rates used for the following grounds maintenance operations:

  • Strimming
  • Cutting grass using ride on mower
  • Cutting grass using hand mowers
  • Tractor grass cutting

Any information and advise you are able to offer would be very much appreciated. All those who contribute to this network query will receive the collated feedback report.

Options, opportunities and potential to raise income in the Parks and Open Spaces Service - GM0329
This local authorities is currently reviewing their parks and open spaces service and is interested in hearing from colleagues who have explored the options/opportunities/potential to raise additional income via the selling of their services to external clients, namely:

  • How have you gone about investigating the options and opportunities to raise income in the parks service?
  • What are the legal and logistical challenges we should look out for?
  • What have been your approach to income generation and commercialisation of the parks service?
  • Has this approach resulted in the setting up of new structures e.g. a wholly owned company in your local authority?
  • Any learning/top tips from your experience?
  • Would you be happy for us to visit your department to best practice share and learn from your experience?

Any information you can provide would as always be much appreciated. All those who contribute to the answering of this network query will of course be sent a copy of the collated response.

Bee and wasp stings – GM0328
This authority is experiencing a high number of bee and wasp stings to grounds staff and are interested to know whether other authorities are experiencing this too what methods have they used to try and reduce it what type of high visibility clothing can be used that still complies with current legislation.

They would like to see copies of any policies covering the duty of care for employees who have an allergic reaction from stings and any specific requirements relating to them.

Charging in Parks for Boot Camps and Exercise Classes – GM0327/SL0161/150813
This APSE member authority is interested in finding out how other local authorities deal with individuals or organisations requesting to use parks and open space to operate ‘boot camps’ or other fitness classes.

They would like to know the following:

  • Do you have requests for use of this nature in your parks and open spaces?
  • If so do you operate any charges and if so at what level?
  • Do you operate on the basis of a signed hire agreement?
  • Are you able to supply a copy of any hire agreement of charges schedule?

Park Trusts – GM0318/070613
This authority has 2 parks which were donated to the people of the town to a separate Trust and have restrictions of use. These restrictions are now causing problems such as who can use buildings, charging, alcohol, use on Sundays, opening times, advertising and more.

They are interested in hearing from other park managers who have had similar experiences, specifically from anyone who has recently changed their charity "scheme" or objects having gone through the Charities Commission and had a positive outcome. They would also like to hear from anyone who has been challenged for allowing their park to be used against such restricted uses.

Canada Geese - GM0314/090513
This Council have a problem in its main town centre park with Canada Geese. The park has a lake. The numbers (about 60-70) are causing complaints because their fouling is making grass areas unusable for picnics and play, and unpleasant for cricketers. They are interested to know if any Council has implemented successful control measures.

Asset management and work scheduling GM0313/090513
This authority would like to know what system(s) you are currently using for managing your parks assets and work scheduling within your parks and open space service. They would also like to know about the major advantages or disadvantages with using the computer system you use.

Grounds maintenance equipment – TVM0114/070513
The local authority would appreciate feedback from other local authorities on their ride on triple mowers and tractors with gang mowers attached. Specific information required is as follows:

  • Internal lease cost to user
  • Make and model of grass cutting equipment
  • What is included in the internal lease i.e. tyres, insurance etc.
  • Maintenance costs for normal fair wear and tear
  • Costs for non-fair wear and tear

Wild swimming GM0317/130513
A member authority is seeking to establish a coherent policy on wild swimming. With the summer months approaching there is a fear that allowing some to swim in lakes will encourage those less safety conscious.

  • Do you have a policy on swimming in lakes?
  • If so how is it enforced?

Monitoring arboricultural performance - GM0316/240413
This local authority would like to find out from other councils what framework(s) they have in place for monitoring arboricultural performance.

Management of crematoria - GM0311/010513
This local authority would be interested in hearing from other authorities who have changed their arrangements for managing crematoria; for example, sale of the asset, establishment of a community interest company, etc.  They would also appreciate feedback from councils who have looked at different options recently for the management of crematoria and decided ‘for’ or ‘against’ this.

A member authority is seeking software to manage their parks volunteers - SL0156/120413 / GM0315/120413

  • What software do you use?
  • Is this in-house or externally sourced?
  • Does it work on either SQL, Oracle or Progress?
  • Does it have a web interface?

Inspection of paths and road-ways in parks and greenspaces - GM0309/130313
This local authority is proposing applying the Highways Inspection regime to surfaced paths/road-ways in parks and greenspaces. They would like to find out of other authorities:

  • Do you apply the same standard of path inspection / maintenance to parks as you do to the highway?
  • Do you have different intervention levels / timescales for repair between highways and parks?
  • Do you have any formal inspection regime / maintenance schedule for surfaced paths/road-ways in parks and greenspaces?

Removing unauthorised memorabilia from cemeteries and crematoria - GM0312/130313
The authority would like to know if other authorities have removed unauthorised memorabilia from cemeteries and crematoria.

If so:

  • What process was used? E.g. Letters to lair holders, notices on cemeteries and crematoria etc. 
  • What level of consultation was carried out with public, elected members etc. Prior to removal of items?
  • What notice period was allowed before items were removed?

Hedges Legislation
This authority is interested to know how others deal with High Hedges Legislation, specifically:

  • How many High Hedges enquiries have been received since April, 2012?
  • How many have resulted in enforcement, namely the issuing of a statutory notice / fine to the landowner?
  • How is the legislation administered? By a dedicated team or as part of wider duties? If a dedicated team, how many staff would this be?
  • Do council’s charge an initial or admin fee, and would this be discounted from any fine ultimately issued?
  • If an admin fee is charged, is this refundable if a statutory notice / fine isn’t issued (in other words, if there is an informal resolution)

They would also like to have sight of any policy documents drawn to address this issue.

Café's in parks and outdoor leisure/sports facilities - GM0306/230113
We are interested in hearing from those authorities who provide or lease café facilities in their parks and outside leisure facilities:

  • Number of cafe facilities operating
  • Number operated in-house operated
  • Number leased/licensed to an external provider and if so who
  • Detail on required provision re menu, seasonality of opening times etc.
  • Best practise to maximise income generation

Route optimisation - GM0305/230113
This local authority would like to hear from other local authorities who have completed route optimisation for grass cutting rounds and/or street cleansing rounds. Please provide details of the services covered and the methods used, including successes and challenges.

Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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