Harlow Council rolls out new landscape maintenance standards across town

News / Sat 30th Sep 2023 at 06:45am

FOLLOWING successful pilots introduced earlier in the season, Harlow Council has been rolling out new standards of landscape maintenance across the whole of Harlow this week.

Over one-third of Harlow is made up of beautiful green space and the council and HTS are working to restore pride in the town by improving how landscaped areas in the town are maintained. Subject to the weather conditions the grass cutting season in the town is due to end in November. 

The workforce now covers defined neighbourhoods in teams of three meaning that:

  • Grass is cut and strimmed at the same time so that grass is not overgrown around obstacles.
  • HTS will aim to cut the grass every 10 working days as opposed to every 17 working days to ensure it is kept shorter and tidier.
  • Each team of three has responsibility for defined areas to ensure pride is taken in work.
  • A leading hand in each team inspecting the work when completed to ensure it is of the highest standard.
  • Improved maintenance of hedges and bushes. 

The council will also be bringing forward a new tree maintenance strategy.

Commenting on the new townwide standards, Councillor Nicky Purse, cabinet portfolio holder for environment and sustainability, said:

“Harlow is blessed with so many beautiful green spaces in every street, but we know the maintenance of those spaces has not always been good enough. That’s why, we introduced pilots of certain neighbourhoods earlier in the season to test new ways of working and standards. I am delighted that those pilots have been so successful and that we are now rolling out these standards to every neighbourhood in Harlow.

“One of our five priorities is to restore pride in Harlow and with these new landscape maintenance standards, we will be doing just that by tackling the issues in your street and ensuring the green spaces are better looked after.”

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22 Comments for Harlow Council rolls out new landscape maintenance standards across town:

matt moore
2023-09-30 07:27:52

they havnt cut the hedge by me for over 2 years when they do arrive in the street vans turn up and they sit there for ages chatting and smokeing then of they go

2023-09-30 07:28:28

they havnt cut the hedge by me for over 2 years when they do arrive in the street vans turn up and they sit there for ages chatting and smokeing then of they go

Andrew S.
2023-09-30 07:29:20

Sounds like a very good idea. Maybe some reward/recognition for the team that consistently achieves the highest standards could be awarded at the end of the summer.

Bruce Downey
2023-09-30 07:33:39

The workforce has been rudderless for years.. and just done the bare minimum.. this is what’s needed new ways of working and standards. Onwards and Upwards 🚀

Kim Oconnor
2023-09-30 08:06:33

Why is this even on hear, so your cutting grass, we pay for all this maintenance.... what do you want a medal,, oh no properly an award.

2023-09-30 08:43:20

Appreciate the grass cutting, not so the overuse of weedkiller! We had a big bright yellow strip of dead grass next to the grass area next to our house . Trying to rectify with grass seed as it looked dreadful. There were minimal weeds

James Leppard
2023-09-30 08:58:37

Bruce Downey is right. This administration has changed the HTS management to introduce professional standards to improve efficiency, productivity and performance to bring HTS up to industry standards. We are seeing the housing repair backlog fall increasingly and environmental works improving. There is much to be done but after years of mediocrity under the previous Labour administration, we are now on the right track to restore pride in our town.

Alderman Durcan
2023-09-30 13:54:11

James often forgets that it his administration that has been unprofessional in not having the correct standards. Whilst a clear insult to the HTS managers and workforce the standards are nothing new. Typical Tory rant if you having new to say just rejuvenate and gas light someone else. No wonder many don’t trust politicians.

Bruce Downey
2023-09-30 14:38:09

🙄 “They don’t like it up ‘em”..

Stuart Crook
2023-09-30 15:18:14

The council’s hedge next to my house was cut yesterday by contractors working for the council and they made a first class job of it it is the best it has looked in the 24 years I have lived thank you

James Leppard
2023-10-01 02:23:39

As usual, Alderman Durcan ignores the facts. Three independent consultants commissioned produced a whole litany of criticisms of the former senior management, governance and performance of HTS. Alderman Durcan is also responsible as he was a Non-Executive Director of HTS, presiding over its then sub-standard performance. This administration has contracted new management and scrapped the previous highly defective Business Plan. How can hard facts constitute an insult? Alderman Durcan dwells in a fantasy world remote from reality.

Church End resident
2023-10-01 08:55:00

The grass team in Sumners and katherines has made it look amazing this summer thank you x nice man too

harlow resident
2023-10-01 10:19:42

everything is over grown! prickle bushes everywhere are over grown, the whole cycle track at staple tye hasnt been cut for at least a year, the new path that was made for people to walk through the beautiful green spaces leading to netteswell pond is all over grown, with lots of nettles along the paths children cang walk down without getting stunk or caught in prickles, I've rang the council a couple of times about how overgrown it is in this town other than the grass and was informed the council have received lots of complaints from the public about similar issues, so how has it been so successful? would be interesting to do a poll and see how much the public who use these spaces on a daily basis think, and how successful we all think it has been. laughable.

2023-10-01 14:12:50

The hedges along footpaths need to be done. There's hardly any space to walk on most of them . People who have planted hedges on their boundary should be made to cut them back too. It's ridiculous

David Forman
2023-10-02 08:35:21

Tory councillor James Leppard is absolutely correct when he says "three independent consultants commissioned (reports) produced a whole litany of criticisms of the former senior management, governance and performance of HTS." The consultants reports cited use of paper records and an inability to produce up to date management information. This was allowed to exist under the last Labour administration and so Labour councillor Tony Durcan's comments are fatuous.

David Forman
2023-10-02 08:45:14

The evidence for paper records is in the LGA Peer Challenge Review, fourth paragraph on page 27: "HTS still rely on a series of systems which are paper-based and require manual inputting and analysis – reducing responsiveness and insight." See LGA report at https://www.harlow.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/LGA%20Corporate%20Peer%20Challenge%20report.pdf

James Leppard
2023-10-02 12:32:26

Thank you David Forman. It is somewhat concerning that you are more aware of matters pertaining to the company than the former Non-Executive Director, Alderman Durcan. It appears all this issues and reports just went over his head. He is testimony as to why we need better governance of HTS and directors who are not asleep whilst on duty.

Fact or Fiction!
2023-10-02 16:10:08

I would refer all parties to: The Harlow Council edition of Stories August 2021, pages 8-11 for any councillors with short memories. 6 councillor non-executive directors from both main parties on the HTS Group Ltd board as overseers! HTS Group Ltd business plan 2022-27, signed off by all parties Harlow Council set performance standards, regularly met and reported publicly by HTS Property & Environment Ltd. Covid-19 in early 2020, where staff were out doing high level cleaning i.e., touch points in public buildings and residential blocks and emergency repairs and maintenance, when everyone else was being told to stay at home. Severe storm damage recovery on multiple occasions by HTS staff Read the news stories on HTS Group Ltd website There will always be workers and shirkers in any business, albeit, HTS or Harlow Council. The purpose of consultants: 1. Providing information to a client 2. Solving a client’s problems 3. Making a diagnosis, which may necessitate redefinition of the problem 4. Making recommendations based on the diagnosis 5. Assisting with implementation of recommended solutions 6. Building a consensus and commitment around corrective action 7. Facilitating client learning—that is, teaching clients how to resolve similar problems in the future 8. Permanently improving organizational effectiveness So in fairness, it would be disappointing if you paid for 3 consultancy reports and they came back and said all was perfect, wouldn’t it? Sadly, HTS Group Ltd and staff at all levels have and continue to be used as a public and political punch bag. For every finger of blame pointed, there are 3 pointing back, so take accountability please and stop the continued finger pointing at 350 staff who in the main serve the town admirably.

James Leppard
2023-10-03 08:20:59

The criticisms made have not once mentioned the HTS workforce or been directed at them. The problems with HTS highlighted, focused on the previous senior management, communications and governance arrangements. Following the changes made by this administration, we are now seeing clear evidence of improvements, which confirms that the previous problems were not related to the workforce but rather the senior management and board of directors.

Fact or Fiction!
2023-10-04 15:19:54

James Leppard, it is good to hear this clarification that no criticism is directed at the workforce. In terms of the separation of senior management and board of directors for criticism, the latter having up to 6 councillor non-executive directors from both main political parties, all being asleep on the job, observations would be: Harlow Council have changed the previous standards that HTS had been meeting, which is arguably fine and within the scope of being the client, but perhaps not grounds for criticising especially when as you would know as the Portfolio for Finance and Governance, upwards of £4M+ has been taken back by the council from HTS over the years it has traded which placed substantial constraints on its ability to implement any new systems and performance processes. These new methods leading to improved performance, as now defined by Harlow Council has been to change the standards previously required, change of some work methods, but more specifically taking on more contractors over and above HTS staffing levels and ironically, if I may quote Councillor David Carter of 3rd October…having taken millions from HTS he states ‘invested millions more to ensure housing repairs are carried out to a better standard and faster’ and ‘enormous progress in the last 100 days’. No mention of the article I quoted and HTS achievements or wider achievements e.g., national awards, local awards, social impact, national accreditations, substantial levels of investment in plant, machinery and equipment and fleet and of course, all while allegedly, senior management were asleep. It does not matter what political persuasion, accountability, integrity and honesty will and should always be at the forefront.

James Leppard
2023-10-05 09:41:38

Fact or Fiction, many of the points you raise are correct. I believe the focus now is to look forward to HTS functioning efficiently with a more motivated workforce and competent professional management and board. I think the lesson from the past have been recognised and are being addressed.

Fact or Fiction!
2023-10-05 17:26:04

James Leppard, we never stop learning so lets close there! Thank you.

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