Agenda item

Grounds Maintenance


Further to Minute No. 4 of the meeting of the Parish Liaison held on 7th April, 2011, David Burton, Director of Streetpride, gave an update on the present situation regarding the proposals to cease grounds maintenance on behalf of Parish Councils and CISWO on land owned by them.


The presentation at the meeting of this forum in April, 2011, was followed up by two letters to Parish Councils dated 17th June and 16th September, 2011 to set up meetings to discuss a range of information and indicative costs.


Any Parish Councils who had not been visited by relevant officers should inform the Department immediately and this would be investigated as there may be some parcels of land unaccounted for.


Discussions have to take place in order to gauge the level of work required, which specialist equipment would be needed and suitable working arrangements.  It was noted that indicative figures charged for playing pitches etc. by Parish Councils varied and consideration may have to be given to their own charging policies.


Responses by Parish Councils were requested by the 4th November, 2011 to allow orders to be placed for equipment.  Any delay to this deadline could potentially jeopardise services being provided on time for the start of the maintenance season.


Copies of a joint statement prepared by fifteen representatives of Parish Councils were circulated, which objected to the decision by the Council to start charging from 1st April, 2012 for grounds maintenance.  The statement pointed out that this was a change in the policy and contrary to the Joint Working Charter.  Parish Councils felt that there had not been a reasonable consultation period on issues that affected Parish Councils nor had they been provided with the opportunity to pass comment before a final decision was made.


The Director of Streetpride again referred to the previous Parish Liaison meeting and the two letters that had been circulated to Parish Councils and stressed the urgency for Parish Councils to contact the Council to arrange meetings.


The Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services highlighted the budget pressures and challenges facing the Council and stressed the need for Parish Councils to get in contact for continue maintenance or to make their own alternative arrangements.


Brinsworth Parish Council representing those involved in the joint statement pointed out that the letter dated 17h June, 2011 was the first indication of the change in policy and were concerned that no formal consultation had been undertaken.  They believed the timescale for setting precepts was compounded by the notice being issued during the summer when some Parish Councils did not hold meetings.  A formal request was, therefore, made for more time to properly consider the implications and ensure best value to residents and a request was made for this to be considered by the Cabinet.


The Strategic Director of Environment and Developments Services did not disagree with the information put forward, but pointed out that a decision had been made and it was now about how to manage the impact of that decision.  This was only one of many difficult budget decisions the Council would have to make, but the transition had to be managed appropriately.


The Chair, whilst making no promises, agreed he would discuss the joint statement with the Leader and Chief Executive and make known the Parish Councils concerns.


It was also suggested that minutes of this meeting be circulated at the earliest opportunity and continue to be published on the Council’s website.


Discussion ensued on leasing arrangements and if this would also be subject to the maintenance changes, the progress of arrangements with CISWO and suggestions that in order to manage their resources Parish Councils look at their charging arrangements.


Agreed:-  (1)  That the joint statement be submitted to the Leader and the Chief Executive for further consideration.


(2)  That communications take place with the relevant Parish Councils.


(3)  That further information be provided to Parish Councils in due course.