Maintaining our Open Spaces and Buildings
We are very fortunate that the Parish Council has 10 open spaces and 2 pavilions (and other workshop sites) across the Parish which are maintained by our Ground Maintenance Team. The open spaces vary from Recreation Grounds to Nature Reserves and green spaces to Churchyards and Burial Grounds in Iver Village. Each of these open spaces are used for very different reasons and have differing levels of ‘traffic’ through them.
As we approach the summer and the time when foliage, grass and shrubs grow rapidly we continue to ensure all our open spaces are maintained and prioritised to ensure the safety and enjoyment for all residents and visitors.
This year has been an unusual year for variable weather during April and May where a constant change of rain and sun has meant that everywhere, including your gardens, experienced rapid and unprecedented growth. Managing this has been hard and often prioritisation has meant that areas that have high ‘traffic’ through them were dealt with promptly.
The Grounds Maintenance team employed by The Ivers Parish Council are highly skilled and highly trained team members who have been part of the team for many years developing good local knowledge and ground care skills. Regular users of the recreation grounds know our team well and the team alike know regular users and often the dogs as well as the owners!
All are trained in inspection of play equipment and outdoor gym apparatus and the Deputy Head Groundsman along with the Deputy Clerk have completed an accredited Operational Inspection course and are RPPI Accredited Inspectors. They are trained in pitch management to ensure our pitches are in the best condition for our football clubs. Visiting teams often comment on the quality of our pitches.
We receive numerous compliments from residents and visitors concerning our open spaces. Where we receive not so positive comments and concerns we prioritise these to ensure remedial work is carried out particularly if the issue relates to a health and safety concern. The health and safety of all our users and the team is our number one priority at all times.
Local resident – “A huge thank you to all at the parish council for making the rec such a beautiful place looking really good today”
Local resident – “Rarely any glass or other nasty things either thanks to daily checks and clear ups”
Anonymous – “I play football in Oxford and the pitches are not as good as this”
Our two Recreation Grounds are inspected and litter picked on a daily basis every day of the year with the exception of Bank Holidays. They are inspected and litter picked early in the morning so any health and safety concerns are picked up straight away and dealt with. Other open spaces are inspected twice a week and other less frequently depending on their general condition and usage. As residents we do look upon you to be our eyes and ears and if any concerns are seen we do encourage you to report these via the monitored contact form on our website. This is the most efficient and effective way to contact the Parish Council Office. We can’t be everywhere all of the time and reports are appreciated and always acknowledged and we always try to give updates.
Throughout the late spring, summer and early autumn months maintaining the Churchyard and Burial Ground at St Peter’s in Iver Village becomes a priority. Maintaining them is likened to painting the Forth Bridge – it’s a never ending task. During this period the Grounds Maintenance team are given additional hours to maintain this and other priority areas across the Parish. The Deputy Clerk works with the team to ensure priorities are identified and if these involve a health and safety issue then these are prioritised above maintenance tasks. The team are very reactive and capable of dealing with ever changing priorities.
We are currently experiencing an increase in low level anti-social behaviour, particularly the mindless smashing of glass bottles on hard surfaces and then dangerous pieces of glass as well as shards are being kicked into the grass making detection quite hard. We prioritise this and make sure the open spaces are free from this material as best we can to minimal injury to adults, children and animals alike. As an example, recently a large number of glass bottles were smashed on the path outside the Parish Council Office and kicked into the grass. The litter pick of this area usually takes 15 minutes but as a result of this mindless act it took the team an hour to clear all this up. In this instance it was cleared by 7am before the area was heavily used as a thoroughfare by children and adults alike. A 15 minute task took an hour so that’s 45 minutes lost in the teams day to maintain elsewhere.
To clarify, these are just some of the responsibilities of the Grounds Maintenance Team (This list is not exhaustive):
- Grass maintenance across all Parish Council open spaces as appropriate.
- Pitch maintenance – including spiking, seeding and marking.
- Foliage & Shrub maintenance – strimming, cutting, pruning and clearing to the recycling centre.
- Minor tree maintenance.
- Litter picking – daily in some sites, twice weekly or weekly in others.
- Health and Safety checks of areas – daily in some sites, twice weekly or weekly in others.
- Health and Safety Inspections of three play areas on a daily basis.
- Minor repairs / maintenance to play equipment / outdoor gym apparatus.
- Maintenance and cleaning of plant and mowers – all equipment is prepared for use and then cleaned after use and weekly inspected to ensure operator safety.
- Regular emptying of all Parish Council rubbish bins and clearing to the recycling centre.
- Minor repairs to other council assets such as benches, noticeboards, parish boundary gates and bus shelters.
- Installing new assets such as benches and noticeboards across the Parish.
- Minor repairs to any of the buildings managed by the Parish Council – This includes any minor repairs to damaged surfaces in our car parks.
- Maintaining most of our wildflower verges where they are on 30mph roads.
- Carrying out all statutory health and safety checks – such as Fire safety, emergency and Legionella tests.
- Escorting contractors on sites – opening and closing of security gates protecting our open spaces from unwanted visitors.
- Graffiti removal – on land and property managed by the Parish Council.
- Generally maintain the security to sides, buildings and storage facilities where council assets are stored.
- Repairs / replacing to signage after minor acts of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
- Taking meter readings to ensure our energy / water are accurate.
- Clearing fly-tips that occur on Parish Council managed lands.
- Liaising with the officers to ensure all the appropriate spares and equipment are ordered and levels are maintained to ensure no interruption to service.
- Dealing with priorities identified by the Parish Council Officers particularly where issues have been appropriately reported by residents.
As well as this, the Grounds Maintenance team undertake appropriate training to do their jobs to a high standard, gather as a team with their line manager to undertake meetings and toolbox talks, safety briefings and importantly, for their health and wellbeing, take their full annual leave entitlement to refresh and rest and spend time with their families.
The summer months are the busiest months for grounds maintenance and prioritisation is key to ensuring everything gets maintained. You can assist us greatly by reporting any concerns or paying us any compliments via the Contact Form on our website (www.iversparishcouncil.gov.uk) or by calling the office between 9am and 4.30pm. These are the official reporting mechanism and will always receive a fast response.