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Colchester Borough Council's Community Services manages the grounds and landscape maintenance at a broad range of sites across the borough including sites such as Castle Park, High Woods Country Park, Old Heath Recreation Ground as well as many other less formal or smaller sites.
Community Services also manages the grounds maintenance for Colchester Borough Homes (CBH) and highway verges on behalf of Essex County Council. Some specific sites have their own tailored grounds maintenance such as at Castle Park, the various countryside sites and sports grounds. At most other sites there is a general standard of grounds maintenance which you can expect to see being delivered at sites in your local areas.
The following may answer any questions you have about the grounds maintenance we carry out.
All grounds maintenance work is carried out by external contractor. The grounds maintenance contract was awarded on a 7 year 7 month partnership arrangement commencing April 2016 to the Landscape Group. The Council does not employ staff who are directly engaged in grounds maintenance activities. Details for the Landscape Group can be found below:
Parks, open spaces, verges, housing areas and sports grounds:
The Landscape Group
In the growing season we have a programme for grass cutting which follows several routes around the borough. We aim to cut most areas approximately every 2 to 3 weeks depending on weather conditions. Highway verges are cut on a slightly different frequency, approximately every 3 - 4 weeks. Grass cutting starts and ends dependent on the seasonal conditions. The usual dates are from end March to end October annually.
To achieve the most economic and efficient means of grass cutting the contractor will use large mowing machinery where possible. This will mean that on some sites there are areas such as corners or narrow strips where the larger mower is not able to access. In such situations, smaller machines will be working in tandem with the larger equipment. There may be occasions where the different machines lose their synchronisation and one machine may arrive to cut grass in advance of another. Such arrangements will lead to a short period of time when some of the grass is uncut but this should be no longer than a day subject to weather conditions. If the gap between the entire site being cut is greater than 2 working days please let us know.
In advance of grass cutting, the machine operator is expected to check the site and remove any litter to prevent the litter being shredded by the mowing machine. The operators are there as grass cutters not as litter cleaners and grass will only be cleared by grounds maintenance personnel at the time of a grounds maintenance visit. Litter is also removed from shrub borders at the time of carrying out summer and winter maintenance. Concerns about litter on grass areas should be raised with Street Services Zone Managers.
Grass cuttings are not collected as part of the mowing operation except in exceptional areas such high ornamental areas eg. Castle Park. The frequency of grass cutting on all other amenity sites is such that the grass cuttings (known as arisings) are limited and do not affect the appearance or growth of the grass. There is normally a flush of grass growth in June where arisings may be greater than after normal cutting visits. This is a temporary but regular event and the quality of the grass areas will not be affected. Removing the arisings would not be sustainable due to the travel movements necessary to dispose of the arisings and the need to compost the material in an approved site.
This is an operation which is carried out by Essex County Council rather than Colchester Borough Council. This includes all main and residential roads in the borough, To contact Essex County Council about this please visit www.essex.gov.uk or call 0845 6037631.
Essex County Council have the powers to ensure landowners cut back vegetation to keep roads and pavements clear. If this is a problem in your area, then report this through to Essex County Council by visiting www.essex.gov.uk or calling 0845 6037631.
We have a routine programme for maintenance of planted borders which in most areas will mean a monthly visit between March to October followed by a single winter visit between November to February. Highway shrub borders are maintained approximately three times during the summer and once during the winter period. During the growing seasons we carry out weeding and light pruning as well as removing any rubbish of any kind. The winter visit sees us carry out heavier pruning and cultivation, as is often required to maintain a healthy and hopefully vibrant planted border. During this time, where necessary we may carry out some re-planting.
Litter is removed during each maintenance visit which equals nine times per year on amenity areas and 4 times per year on Highway shrub borders.
On occasions, residents or Residents Associations ask if they can carry out planting or maintenance of landscaped areas. In general this is not possible due to insurance problems. There are difficulties regarding the need to obtain insurance cover in the event that the volunteer is injured whilst carrying out the maintenance or planting and if a member of the public is injured as a result of the maintenance being carried out eg. mud on road, volunteer stepping back in the road, tripping over tools.
Most hedges are cut twice a year; once in the early to mid summer after the birds have finished nesting; and again in the autumn. Hedges on Highway verges are cut once per annum.
We also carry out edging of grass areas where they meet paths or other hard surfaces. This is done at some sites during the growing season, but the bulk of this work is done during the winter period, especially on highway verges. This work is carried out to prevent the width of the path becoming reduced affecting the passage of pedestrians or cyclists.
Our contractors are required to carry full public liability insurance. In spite of the safety guards provided on equipment, some maintenance operations have the potential for causing damage and on rare occasions property damage may occur. Grass cutting and strimming operations are examples where small stones may be discharged from the machine. In the event that any damage is caused as a result of grounds maintenance operations, the enquirer should contact the company carrying out the work. CBC will not progress insurance claims on behalf of a claimant. Where possible the operator carrying out the maintenance should be informed of the accident and details of the time and vehicle should be recorded for future claim processing.
For more information on landscape and grounds maintenance please email firstname.lastname@example.org if possible with the name or location of the specific site. Or telephone Colchester 01206 282266.
If you would like more information on the public highway, please contact the Highways Helpline on 08456037631 or visit www.essex.gov.uk and fill in the online form.