Pro­posal for coun­cil-led team to land­scape town

Start-up cost of £1.5 mil­lion for all-new ser­vice

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - ABC Plans - By Vicky Castle

Coun­cil chiefs have an­nounced a £1.5 mil­lion plan to cre­ate an ‘in-house’ grounds main­te­nance ser­vice.

As part of the land­scape man­age­ment im­prove­ment plan, coun­cil­lors want to cre­ate their own coun­cil-led team to cut, mow, prune, plant, clear and clean.

Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil’s (ABC) cab­i­net agreed a one-off rev­enue bud­get al­lo­ca­tion of £200,000 to im­ple­ment the work across 2015 and 2016, at its meet­ing last Thurs­day.

They also agreed to ap­prove a cap­i­tal bud­get of £1.5m to buy grounds main­te­nance ma­chin­ery, equip­ment and a de­pot.

The move will see ser­vices trans­ferred from the KCC Land­scape Ser­vices team to an ABC-em­ployed team who will man­age and op­er­ate ev­ery­thing across the bor­ough them­selves.

Mem­bers said it would also al­low “the de­vo­lu­tion of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to parish coun­cils”.

Cllr Clair Bell, ABC port­fo­lio holder for public in­ter­ac­tion and bor­ough pre­sen­ta­tion, said: “We need a dif­fer­ent way of do­ing things in the fu­ture to achieve the qual­ity we want to see in our open spa­ces and on the round­abouts and verges around the bor­ough.

“Re­sources have been re­duced sig­nif­i­cantly over a pe­riod of time and this has re­sulted in a ser­vice de­liv­ery which, frankly, hasn’t man­aged to keep pace with the stan­dard we now want to achieve.

“An in-house ser­vice will give us the con­trol to fo­cus on our pri­or­i­ties, al­low us to be ag­ile in our re­sponse to ar­eas which may need par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion at a cer­tain time, rather like the way Tcat op­er­ate.”

Cllr Bell added: “I be­lieve we need this in­vest­ment to make the town more wel­com­ing to visi­tors, some­thing we want to en­cour­age given the sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion they make to the lo­cal econ­omy.

“I think we owe it to our res­i­dents, as well.

“We should take pride and plea­sure in see­ing a pleas­ant well-main­tained en­vi­ron­ment as they go about their daily busi­ness, par­tic­u­larly for young peo­ple, be­cause it’s surely ben­e­fi­cial to grow up in a place where it’s clear public spa­ces are some­thing to be val­ued and cared for.”

‘I be­lieve we need this in­vest­ment to make the town more wel­com­ing to visi­tors’

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@ thek­m­

Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil’s Clair Bell says in-house grounds main­te­nance ser­vice will al­low coun­cil to pri­ori­tise work

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