Author Topic: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces  (Read 42007 times)

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Offline Muggins

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #80 on: June 02, 2012, 05:34:46 PM »
And unsupervised, untrained volunteers, which we have found out to our cost. 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

George Elliot

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #81 on: June 02, 2012, 05:39:18 PM »
Have you looked at the standard of grass cutting in North Wilts?

Offline Jean

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #82 on: June 02, 2012, 05:41:21 PM »
On the whole I'm surprised at the general ignorance of the public at large with regard to recognising wild flowers. My mum has had a run of so-called gardeners who have pulled up all the primroses, forget-me-nots and valerian that I have carefully planted.   
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Offline Richard Beale

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #83 on: June 02, 2012, 05:46:12 PM »
Quote
To reopen an old wound, for this thread any way... Swindon Borough Council has decided that an acceptable way to cut grounds maintenance costs is to lower contract standard so that:

a. poor quality grass cutting is acceptable
b. no follow up mowing is acceptable
c. no EFFECTIVE contract management is acceptable

If this really is the case then it is beyond parody that Mr Bluh talks about providing quality services.

This was a little note i kept on my desk when at work. I always showed it to some bright spark who wanted to demonstrate how smart they were at getting a service provider to reduce their prices.

Quote
It's unwise too pay too much, but it's equally unwise to pay too little. When yuo pay too much you lose a little money .....that's all.  When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incacapable of doing the thing you bought i to do.  The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can't be done.  If you deal with the lowest bidder, it's well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better
The man who wrote that died in 1900 so it's not a new concept, but it applies today just as much as it did in 1860

Quite Des, and thats how it USED to operate. I remember SCS (then called Thamesdown Contractors) losing a contract on price, but when the figures from the winning bid were examined it was shown that the contractor planned to not deliver the full contract spec, but had put in for the work anyway.

So the the contract was awarded to Thamesdown Contractors who were next cheapest. So the contract stayed in house.

That was back in the day when we had a parks department, staff to monitor the work, a proper contract, with a quality based contract spec and SBC were prepared to pay for a quality service.

As for Bluh, what do you expect.... he's not exactly going to tell the truth either about the service cut backs or the fact he's letting the contractor selfregulate / monitor, because he's shut down the relevent civic function is he.

Words on paper or on the web mean nothing when the results are plain and obvious as most are starting to see. A few people that don't know I left have complained to me how crap Swindon is looking in general. Lots of hedges not cut back last winter is what i'm hearing. kind of glad I don't work there now.......

Offline Richard Beale

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #84 on: June 02, 2012, 05:49:13 PM »
Have you looked at the standard of grass cutting in North Wilts?

Why just north wilts... Wiltshire CC operate through the county. Pretty good where I live. Frequent and a good quality cut and follow up.

Roadside verges can be of intermittent quality but then that tends to be carried out by individual farmers paid for by Wilts CC

Is yours good or bad and where (roughly ) is it?

George Elliot

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #85 on: June 02, 2012, 06:12:12 PM »
In Wiltshire I have been told there are more pariah councils that cut their own grassed areas. We could post our pictures to a suitable website for comparison, or is that a little sad?

Offline Muggins

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #86 on: June 02, 2012, 07:14:50 PM »
I do hope you mean parish councils, George.

I must tell you this story.  Probably 20 years ago, I attended an environmental conference in Swindon - at Greendown School, at saisdconference an organisation called Groundworks gave a presentation they were a sort of charitable consultant, well, that's how I describe them. I made a mental note at the time, that they should be left well off my radar.  I didn't think they were dodgy, but, for me,  a funny way of working.

Then a couple of years ago, they bobbed up again at an SSP conference and when I walked in someone asked me what it was I didn't like about them, I could not remember, just that I wanted them kept at arms length.  When they were speaking it all came flooding back.

It went something like this, if you wanted to start a community outdoor project, like a community garden, play area etc.  you could ask them to come in, they would then help you to find funding, (as far as I could tell they didn't directly fund you, so you were still in competition with all the other bids and funding streams) help you write the bid, which apparently you would sign, if you got it,  they would do the work of landscape design and landscaping, etc. for which you would pay them, having got the bid they would write for you (get it?).

Now that meant, you didn't learn anything about those things yourself, you didn't do any of the groundwork, digging, planting, and general community development that goes on and is the main purpose of any of these projects, anyway. It also means that if you decide half way through that you don't really want to work with them, how do you opt out and how is the work put out to tender.

To be honest, if you have a community worker to support you, a bit of expertise on hand, someone to co-ordinate stuff, you can do it on your own and choose your own support and there is always help with bid writing from WSCF and Charites Info bureau and other aroudn the town that have aquired the skill. 

A few weeks ago, I sort of fought off another worker promoting the use of them.

Yesterday, it's in the paper, half way through a garden project and just a few weeks before the first sod is cut, Groundwork has gone into administration. Something about 'example' here.

Who is going to support them now.

At one time,  the Wiltshire Law Centre was funded to help volunteers along the right legal path, we had a ful,l properly trained, community development department, both of who's job was to guide you and then set you free - enabling you to take it on your own.  Nowadays that's called capacity building and working in partnership and being it together.





 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Richard Beale

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #87 on: June 02, 2012, 08:41:07 PM »
In Wiltshire I have been told there are more pariah councils that cut their own grassed areas. We could post our pictures to a suitable website for comparison, or is that a little sad?

Certainly not, its quite apt i feel as Parish and Town councils are in theory closer to their electorate, what with Loacalism being the key word. Most parish councillors do it voluntarily and don't pay themselves salaries.

Offline Jean

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #88 on: June 03, 2012, 10:00:05 AM »
Thanks for the news about Groundwork, Muggins. They were recently awarded £2000 by Swindon Council to do some work in the Richard Jefferies Museum garden (sorting out the uneven path. a fence and digging a pond). They were due to start at the end of May - I wondered why we've heard nothing and I suspect that we've now lost the £2000 in a black hole. If we had asked for £2000 to do some work in the garden, Swindon Council wouldn't have given it to us (Richard Jefferies Society). We could have bought a really nice sit-on mower (and not your converted bicycle, Muggins).
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Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #89 on: June 03, 2012, 11:34:54 AM »
Thanks for the news about Groundwork, Muggins. They were recently awarded £2000 by Swindon Council to do some work in the Richard Jefferies Museum garden (sorting out the uneven path. a fence and digging a pond). They were due to start at the end of May - I wondered why we've heard nothing and I suspect that we've now lost the £2000 in a black hole. If we had asked for £2000 to do some work in the garden, Swindon Council wouldn't have given it to us (Richard Jefferies Society). We could have bought a really nice sit-on mower (and not your converted bicycle, Muggins).

oh dear Jean Penny Wise and Two Thousand Pound foolish!
All my posts are my own opinion and do not represent any political organization or group

Offline Muggins

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #90 on: June 03, 2012, 07:18:22 PM »
I  think they are also involved in the Vision for Wroughton Project.

SBC may not ahve given them, that money, it might have been a grant from somnwhere else, apparently that's the way they work.

Has anyone seen the improvements they have made to Theatre Square?
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Jean

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #91 on: June 03, 2012, 07:32:58 PM »
I  think they are also involved in the Vision for Wroughton Project.

SBC may not ahve given them, that money, it might have been a grant from somnwhere else, apparently that's the way they work.



Definitely a grant from SBC - here's the email
Quote
From: Lesley Nel
Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:13 AM
To: Jean Saunders
Subject: Richard Jefferies Museum Gardens

Good news Jean! We have been successful in the small grant application from Swindon BC, and have been awarded £2665 to contribute to doing some work, complementing the M&S Legacy Fund that Groundwork has allocated to the project. ... I look forward to making a difference, best regards for now, Lesley



Lesley Nel

Swindon Programme Manager

Groundwork South West,

Emlyn Square,

Swindon SN1 5BP

01752 217721 ext 450

0777 2044048



Groundwork South West
www.groundworksouthwest.org.uk
Follow us on Twitter @GroundworkSW
P Please consider the environment before printing this email

Groundwork Southwest  is a Registered Charity Limited by Trust.
Company Registration No. 2632905.  Charity Registration No. 1008537.  VAT No. GB834840323
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Groundwork South West is a Registered Charity Limited by Trust. Company Registration No.2632905. Charity Registration No.1008537. VAT No. GB834840323. Registered Office: Sandon Court, The Millfields, Plymouth PL1 3JB. This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. This information may also be legally privileged. If you have received this message in error, you must not disclose, copy, circulate or in any other way use or rely on the information contained in this message. If you have received this message in error, please delete it immediately and advise us by return e-mail to the above address.
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Offline Richard Beale

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #92 on: June 03, 2012, 09:05:08 PM »
Quote
To reopen an old wound, for this thread any way... Swindon Borough Council has decided that an acceptable way to cut grounds maintenance costs is to lower contract standard so that:

a. poor quality grass cutting is acceptable
b. no follow up mowing is acceptable
c. no EFFECTIVE contract management is acceptable

If this really is the case then it is beyond parody that Mr Bluh talks about providing quality services.

I had cause to drive around Swindon today. up queens drive from the south, to Ttkmaxx in gorsehill, to greenbridge, then to the designer outlet. All I can say Des, is to agree that Swindon is looking CRAP. Long grass everywhere, especially in the parks estates and walcot, many of the side roads visible from QD looked very long and all the shrubberies extremely weedy. There's some serious weed issues, lots of tallish st johns wort in the grass which means it probably hasn't been cut for MORE than 4 weeks! The only bit that looked like it had been maintained recently was the larger open spaces of the lawn estates, and the underpass from lawn to park south. Rest of it looked very neglected. Great western way wasn't much better. If i hadn't of been driving i would have taken a pics.

Flower beds at Gorsehill railway bridges where full of weeds and pidgeons. No bedding plants and no sign of any preperation for any. Weeds were so tall in the grass they where swaying in the breeze! The roundabout on the south side looks like a hay meadow. We used to keep that well under control.

Daffodils and crocus not cut down yet, (that can be forgiven as Daffs have yet to go over fully), but crocus should have been done by now or at least started.


Offline Des Morgan

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #93 on: June 03, 2012, 10:10:52 PM »
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lots of tallish st johns wort


Richard, what is the weed which has a 'sticky' feeling to it, narrow leaf but grows voraciously and climbs ?  There is a lot about

Offline Jean

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #94 on: June 03, 2012, 10:43:43 PM »
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lots of tallish st johns wort


Richard, what is the weed which has a 'sticky' feeling to it, narrow leaf but grows voraciously and climbs ?  There is a lot about

Cleavers - they've gone mad this year! I've never seen so much. It's also known as goosegrass, sticky willy and clergyman's kisses (the seed pods - the hairy burs - also stick to everything, including my cats!) and by a host of other names. Fortunately, it is only an annual and worth pulling up before it sets seed. 
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Offline Richard Beale

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #95 on: June 04, 2012, 12:16:31 AM »
Quote
lots of tallish st johns wort


Richard, what is the weed which has a 'sticky' feeling to it, narrow leaf but grows voraciously and climbs ?  There is a lot about

Cleavers - they've gone mad this year! I've never seen so much. It's also known as goosegrass, sticky willy and clergyman's kisses (the seed pods - the hairy burs - also stick to everything, including my cats!) and by a host of other names. Fortunately, it is only an annual and worth pulling up before it sets seed.

thats the one, Galuim aparine if your a dead roman botanist.... It's a little resistant to weed killer and is a quick coloniser. It is an ephemeral, which means it will set seed and more than one generation in a year, making it quick to take advantage of unmaintained shrubberies. That and Bindweed are going to be rife.

Offline Jean

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #96 on: June 04, 2012, 06:19:39 AM »
The one good thing about cleavers is that it is a very easy plant to pull up. You don't need weedkillers. That being said, I've never used weedkillers on anything in my life. 
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Offline Muggins

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #97 on: June 04, 2012, 09:12:09 AM »
S'funny, usually we have quite a lot of cleavers in the Orchard, but I haven't noticed it to be worse this year, or the bindweed for that matter.  We have noticed that the lack of cutting and general maintenance are leading to some interesting wild flowers popping up in unusual places.

In the garden Wood Avens are as prolific as ever. (looks like a small buttercup).

One thing I have noticed is that there is more Blackbird song this year and clearer and sharper than ever and at present they are tucking in the the berries on my Mahonia Charity, to which, they are very welcome. 

just remember the old adage - One years seeding, 7 years weeding.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline swindoncentric

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #98 on: June 04, 2012, 03:07:22 PM »
The situation seems to be reaching a critical mass across town.

Over the last three days, travelling extensively around North and West Swindon, it's clear that tall grass is the norm and not the exception.

Combined with broken street lights (just a thought, how many people who see a broken light actually report it, or even know that they can report it?), graffiti (again, people not knowing they can report it and have it cleaned for free) and weeds sprouting up (remember when the Council use to have guys with backpacks and a squirty gun?) between pavement edges and walls and the town is looking especially tatty.

This lack of basic infrastructure care should have been an issue in the local election, I remember some candidates did include things in leaflets, but there was no mass take-up of it.

What do us engaged and passionate residents do?

Offline Muggins

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Re: Just who will be left to look after our open spaces
« Reply #99 on: June 04, 2012, 04:25:46 PM »
Yikes, yikes, yikes...............I've just had a ride around Seven Fields, the edges to the cycle routes near Penhill Copse, Abbey Meads side have been done and a wonderful job made of the green paths around the Nature Reserve. The paths protect the meadows and stop them encroaching on the cycle ways, so they are necessary.

However it's the first time since 1967 that I have seen Penhill Playing Fields with anything near long grass, it's always been beautifully maintained.  It looks like they made a start with about a 6 ft cut all around the outside, probably rain stopped play. 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)