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2019 (Part 2)

GM0715 - Vacant allotment plots - 241219

A member authority is interested to know about the level of vacancy regarding allotment plots. They would particularly like information on:

  • How many total plots does your authority have over how many sites?
  • How many plots are currently listed as vacant (please do not include plots under offer)?
  • How many plots are currently under offer?
  • How many plots are currently considered unlettable/ decommissioned, if recorded?
  • If you record this information over the year, please state which months had the lowest and highest occupancy rates and what these figures were. If there were contributing factors please include this in your response (e.g. invoicing in October saw plots returned).

GM0714 - Management agreements with community groups for community allotments/gardens - 241219

A member authority is currently building a community garden which will be handed over to community partners (a local Men’s Shed) to manage. Would any member organisations be willing to share any management agreements that they would have between Council and third parties for the management of community gardens, allotments or similar?

GM0713 - Adopting a more ecological approach to amenity grass management on highway verges and urban open spaces - 291119

A member authority is looking to adopt a more ecological approach to amenity grass management on highway verges and urban open-space. They are interested to receive information from authorities who may have adopted a similar approach. They are particularly interested in receiving information on the following:

  • Has any authority raised the mowing height and/or reduced the annual frequency of cuts allowing low growing native plants to thrive.
  • Introduced species rich grassland or native and/or ornamental meadows
  • Introduced rough infrequently maintained grass areas to the base of hedgerows, informal grass areas, around trees and woodland edge.
  • Introduced semi scrubland mowing on a 3-5 year cycle
  • Anything else?
  • Have alternatives to regular mowing been put in place?
  • Have there been problems and benefits to the changes.

They are also interested to know if any authorities have taken a more ecological approach to structural diversity in the urban environment, for example:

  • Improving the diversity of spaces by planting hedges, trees & nesting cover?
  • Introducing any food for free planting areas such as hedgerows for foraging?

They would be happy to receive information on any other actions or initiatives being taken in this field of work.

GM0712 - Allotment Software - 221119

An APSE member authority is currently researching software products to facilitate allotment management due to the current system no longer being fit for purpose. They would be very grateful for advice and feedback from colleagues within other member authorities. In particular they would be very grateful if each could indicate the following:

1. What allotment management software is in place at your authority and what devices/platforms do you use it on?

2. Have you encountered any issues in relation to the mobile functionality of the software if the data is held in “the Cloud”? If so, what are they?

3. What are the main benefits of the software that you use?

4. Does the software provide all the management tools required to manage allotments in your authority?

5. Does your software link to the SAP financial system?

6. Following initial cost of software implementation what percentage increases in licence fees/support/upgrades have taken place?

7. Do you have any locally managed or self-managed allotment sites in your authority?

GM0711 - Tree Inspections - staff resources and frequencies - 221119

APSE is looking to gather data from local authority members to identify current working practices and resourcing levels regarding tree inspections. APSE understands this is a sensitive area and would therefore not share this information beyond its membership. It is hoped that from the information gathered, APSE will be able to produce a briefing note for its members on the state of play in relation to this area of work and identify innovation and good practice where it exists. The data requested is as follows:

  • How many trees is your local authority responsible for in your council area?
  • How many trees in total are there in your council area?
  • How many FTE tree inspectors do you employ?
  • Do you provide tree inspection services in-house or is it providing through an external contractor (if by a contractor please give details).
  • What is the frequency of your tree inspections?
  • Do you employ a risk rating system for identified tree works as a result of tree inspections.
  • Do you undertake any private tree inspections for which you make a charge?
  • Do you have a tree inspection policy working practice document you would be willing to share?

GM0710 - Allotment Management software - 181119

A member authority wishes to find out what Allotment Management Software other Councils use please (if any). The software they currently have is quite basic, but it holds individual site information, tenants on plots, rent info, waiting lists for each site, runs reports on tenants, waiting lists, vacancies etc. The enquiring authority is looking for an upgrade where they can mail merge tenant info for letters, email etc., see waiting list positions on multiple sites at a glance, input inspection information and create reports on lettings, unlettable plots, vacancies, waiting lists etc. A new version of their current software does this, but they are wondering if there are others to compare with.

GM0709 - Wet weather gear for horticultural workers - 181119

Does any authority have information on the grade of wet weather gear issued to horticultural staff that gives an acceptable level of waterproof protection and is also not excessive on perspiration build up. If there are any brands that have fulfilled this and are priced competitively the information would be most appreciated.

GM0708 - CSE accreditation - 121119

A member authority would be interested to hear from any authority who holds a CSE accreditation and would they be prepared to share their data, in particular:

  • Does anyone monitor the performance in relation to timeliness, speed of responding to requests – would they share the outcome/results?
  • Does anyone monitor the performance of quality of customer service – would they share the outcome/results?

GM0707 - Park Lodge Strategies - 121119

A member authority is interested in hearing from any authorities that have a policy or strategy for dealing with Park Lodges? They have 18 lodges, some empty, some occupied by current or past employees and some on service tenancies. Rent has been set by the Council’s Estates team but some lodges do have a 25% service discount. Therefore they want to know if any authority has developed a policy or strategy to revitalise and manage park lodges e.g. maintenance backlog, how are they keeping up with maintenance, refurbishing properties and ensuring they are managed well and lawfully. The enquiring authority also has the added complication that 8 of the lodges are held in trust, so if any authority has a specific strategy for managing lodges held in trust this would be particularly welcomed.

GM0706 - Dogs in the workplace - 051119

A member authority is looking into putting together a proposal to allow a dog into the workplace to work with the Rangers. The dog would come into contact with members of the public and with voluntary groups of all ages. As part of the proposal, they need to put together all the paperwork, including policies, risk assessments, insurance, etc. They are therefore interested to know if anyone has any experience of this approach that they could offer any advice on, or having any examples that they could provide. It would also be useful to know what others working practices are on this issue.

GM0705 - Local authority charging policies for activities in parks - 051119

A member authority would be interested to receive any information relating to other local authorities charges for football, funfairs and bowling in Parks and charges in general?

GM0704 - Frequency of tree pollarding - 211019

A member authority is currently developing a pollarding programme for highway trees particularly Limes and London Planes. They would like to know if other authorities have such a programme and if so:

  • what frequency is pollarding carried out and is it cost effective?
  • If not what works do you specify to appease residents and members?

GM0703 - Dealing with Japanese Knotweed complaints - 250919

A member authority is starting to receive an increasing number of complaints and claims alleging a failure to maintain or control Japanese Knotweed and other invasive species and allowing its migration on to neighbouring land. We would be interested in any formal or informal policies and / or procedures as to how other authorities deal with the invasive species problem and how complaints and claims have been dealt with.

GM0702 - Tree Mapping Software - 250919

A member authority is interested to hear from other local authorities about the types of mapping software and hand held devices they use for mapping trees. They are particularly interested to know,

  • Is it GPS? and how well does it work under the tree canopy.
  • What is the cost for the licence?
  • Is there extra cost for support?

GM0701 - Grounds maintenance of roundabouts - 240919

A member authority is looking for information as to how other authorities deal with the grounds maintenance of roundabouts, in particular:

  • how they access them and exit them,
  • whether you use Traffic Management etc?

The enquiring authority would appreciate any feedback, RAMS or supporting documents.

GM0700 - Hire and booking charge for events within parks - 240919

A member authority is requesting information from local authorities on their hire/booking charges for events within Parks. To include if possible:

  • Commercial events e.g. concerts, festivals
  • Funfairs
  • Circus
  • Commercial promotions e.g. nursery advertising places, car dealerships etc. • Community (non-profit) events


GM0699 - Formal beach management procedure 

A member authority’s current process for managing beaches comes from historic knowledge of the sites in question. They are therefore trying to create a formal process/procedure document to manage these facilities. To assist please complete the questions below. Any other information, examples of policy documentation would also be appreciated.

Public Slipways

1. How many slipways within your jurisdiction do they manage 2. Type of slipway (wooden or concrete) 3. How often they are cleaned 4. Method of cleaning 5. Criteria used to determine which ones are cleaned and how often 6. How often are they risk assessed

Beach Safety

1. Type of emergency equipment provided 2. Location of emergency equipment 3. criteria used to determine the location 4. How often is the equipment inspected 5. Do you provide Beach Lifeguards 6. If yes who provides Lifeguards 7. If yes how many locations are lifeguards provided at

Beach Awards

1. Do you have beach awards 2. If yes to the above, how many and which ones

Bathing Water

1. How many bathing Water Designations in your area 2. How do you display the bating water classifications 3. Do you participate in the Short Term Pollution warnings 4. If yes to above how is this advisory notice displayed

GM0698 - Respiratory protection measures for cleaning out aviaries in parks

A member authority is interested to know what respiratory protection other authorities use together with related procedures they have in place for cleaning out bird aviaries in local parks?

GM0697 - Grass cutting cost comparisons - 130919

A member authority is enquiring about costs for different types of grass cutting. In particular they are interested in the following: Have Authorities undertaken a cost comparison exercise between amenity grass cutting and conservation grass cutting per annum? If yes, could Authorities please provide their cost comparison information stating:

  • the amenity grass cutting frequency and cost per acre (or other measurement),
  • conservation grass cutting frequency and cost per acre (or other measurement),
  • is the cost of removing and disposing of the conservation grass included in your costs and if yes could you please provide details.

GM0696 - How Parks Departments support events in parks - 130919

A member authority is asking for information on how other Park departments support events in Parks. The information they would like back is focusing on events run by park user groups, friends of park groups and charity/community organisations. In particular they are looking for answers to the following questions:

  • How much support do you provide
  • How is the Event generated litter managed
  • Do you encounter additional litter/rubbish challenges post event
  • Do you provide or deliver event infrastructure or equipment i.e. fire extinguishers, staging, tables & chairs, gazebos etc.
  • What level of staffing (if any) would be allocated to this type of event. If so do you charge
  • What are the challenges your Park Management Team have to deal with post event

GM0695 - Digital systems for Arborist Teams - 060919

A member authority is looking to identify possible digital solutions for an effective workload management tool for their Arborist team. They are looking for a real time digital system that allows the team to complete necessary tree inspections but also manage workload remotely. They would therefore be interested to hear from any local authority which currently operates such a system.

GM0694 - Risk assessment systems for parks - 060919

A member authority is developing a system of site risk assessments across all of their parks and green spaces and would like to know if other authorities have set up or have a system that they use for managing risk across their own parks and green spaces?

In particular:

  • How often do these site inspections take place? – The member authority currently carry out theirs annually but are looking at some of their premier parks to be inspected more frequently.
  • What details do local authorities include in the recording of defects? – the enquiring authority uses a traffic light system Red/Amber/Green based on IOSH Risk Assessment matrix
  • How is this record updated and monitored?
  • How are defects found on a site inspection fixed, for instance are they passed to an operational team for repair?
  • Do member authorities have a hierarchy of parks and green space that they monitor/visit more frequently to assess risk to users of the facility and how is this interpreted?
  • Do member authorities have timescales in place for fixing and or monitoring defects before they are rectified? –This is something that the enquiring authority are under discussion with their teams and Insurance section
  • Do have member authorities have a forward programme for the future. E.g. a five year plan for works in parks and green spaces?
  • How do authorities deal with calls from the customer and how is this recorded and dealt with?

GM0693 - Preventing emissions caused by idle running of vehicle engines in parks - 160819

A member authority is considering how best to discourage the idle running of ice cream van engines in parks. The tenders for mobile refreshments in Parks are due for renewal in April next year and so this would be a good opportunity to address concerns around the risks to people (especially children) being exposed to harmful emissions, and the negative impact upon the environment. Has any other authority dealt with this issue before, how was it built into the tender and did it impact on the letting of the contract?’

GM0691 - Alternatives to plastic bags for community litter picks - 130819

A member authority has been receiving enquiries recently as to why they are still using plastic refuse sacks for litter picks/beach cleans when there is a global drive to reduce plastic. They are therefore enquiring whether any other local authorities members had found any practical alternatives for such activities.

GM0690 - Parks and Play Spaces Inspection Frequency - 130819

A member authority would like to ask other members how frequently they inspect their parks and play spaces; Therefore they would like to know how frequently do you:

1. Inspect play spaces?

2. Inspect parks?

GM0689 - Provision of new green spaces as part of housing developments - 070819

A member authority is currently reviewing the management of new green spaces and how these are delivered as part of housing developments and furthermore, how these are managed in perpetuity. They are undertaking a programme of benchmarking and would be grateful if local authorities could provide information regarding the following questions:

  • Does your authority require the provision of new on site open space? Yes/No
  • If yes how are they managed in perpetuity? (Pease highlight all that apply) a) Adopted by this Local Authority b) Private management company c) Not for profit organisation including Parishes
  • If adopted by the authority how do you cover ongoing costs? (Please highlight) a) A commuted sum b) Other
  • If commuted sums are used: a) What are commuted sum rates based on? b) What period do they cover? c) How often are commuted sums reviewed?
  • Any other comments e.g. reasons why you take the approach that you do and what you see as the advantages and disadvantages.

GM0688 - Fun fair contracts - 020819

A member authority is keen to find out information regarding fun fair contract which other member authorities may have, in particular:

  • Do you have formal fun fair contracts, if so, would you be willing to share examples?
  • Have you experienced any problems with the fun fair providers, if so what type of problems
  • How do you deal with the Showman’s Guild


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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