Sunday, March 18, 2007

Parks scrutiny panel - second meeting

We had the second meeting of the Parks scrutiny panel in Calderstones Park.

I was very keen when drawing up the work programme that we should get out into the parks themselves not debate parks from a city centre office block. This was our first foray out into the green lung and it went very well.

We had half an hour to wonder and wander round the park, we talked about the need for a new glasshouse, more of which in the future I am sure. We looked at the English walled garden and the Japanese walled garden and examined plans for a new path near the exhibition coach house centre.

Several of our party told me that it had been twenty or thirty years since they were last in this particular park, so it was all the more valuable.

The magnolias by the way were magnificent!

We scrutinised the partnership arrangments with Glendale who have taken over full responsibility for the actual physical parks work, the planting, tending, pruning and cutting. There were lots of questions, many from me, I am so enthused about this wonderful opportunity and probably run on a bit too much at times. I asked about the apprentice schemes they have in place with an NVQ in Horticulture at stake, apparently they need to train young people to take the place of the soon to retire gardeners currently on the staff. I was pleased that they are taking some of their apprentices from the unemployed in deprived areas via various organisations and schemes.

We asked lots of questions about the closed circle recycling scheme whereby the green waste, grass cuttings, tree prunings etc are taken away, recycled using special machinery and turned back into suitable products that can be used again in the parks, compost and that kind of thing. I suggested we ask the Select committee to arrange a visit there in due course. It will be a cross-cutting exercise that would be very useful.

I was pleased that my suggestion to Paul Scragg that we have a flower bed display to celebrate the 800th birthday in St John's has been taken on board by Glendale, they were happy to confirm that this would go ahead and are currently identifying suitable plants to make the design which will be the official 800th birthday logo picked out in our corporate purple with white. I cannot wait to see it.

We also explored where other cities were in terms of inhouse gardening and maintenance or tendered out services, apparently Liverpool has gone much further than other cities in terms of outsourcing through this partnership. It has only been in existence a very short time, perhaps by the time the scrutiny comes to an end and we have visited lots more parks and heard lots more evidence I will be clearer as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. But it certainly seemed very positive if you took everything at face value.

I look forward to our next meeting in Belle Vale park

No comments: