idverde (through its legacy company, Quadron Services) commenced a 10-year contract to deliver Charnwood Borough Council’s Management of Open Spaces services in April 2014.

Working in partnership with Charnwood, we carry out grounds maintenance to the council’s open and green spaces, including the Green Flag-accredited and BALI Award-wining Queen’s Park, and the Outwoods, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Other services we provide include managing sports bookings and income, cemeteries management including grave digging, playground inspection and maintenance, and management of the Ranger Service. We also provide management and maintenance of water courses in respect of flood mitigation and maintenance of street furniture and name plates, plus graffiti removal.

Twenty-nine former Charnwood Council employees were welcomed into the company at the start of the contract. Our HR, Health and Safety and Training teams spent several days on-site to familiarise the new staff with the company culture including systems, procedures and quality requirements. Small plant induction training was also delivered by our in-house Lantra-accredited contract trainers.  Training continues to be a priority throughout the contract, with each employee receiving a personal development plan with regular skills reviews and opportunities for further professional development.

In order to aid local sustainability we have pledged to recruit and train a minimum of two apprentices per year.  Opportunities for local unemployed people to undertake mentored work placements will be available over the course of the contract with the support of social enterprise organisations such as Groundwork.

A key element of the service is supporting Charnwood in the delivery of its Open Spaces Strategy.  This sets out the council’s desire to promote, protect and improve the areas open spaces through good management practice, while protecting and enhancing biodiversity and heritage, maximising use of facilities and engendering pride in the local community.  We are helping Charnwood to achieve these goals by introducing more sustainable planting, pledging to increase the number of sites with Green Flags, enhancing the council’s contribution to Loughborough in Bloom and proactively managing natural and conservation areas through a bespoke biodiversity action plan.

Our service development team is working to build relationships with local voluntary organisations and businesses in order to facilitate opportunities for volunteering and increase local involvement in Charnwood’s parks and open spaces.  The team will also hold regular consultations with users throughout the contract period to better understand stakeholders’ aspirations for Charnwood’s green spaces and develop the service accordingly.

Other innovations we have introduced to the contract include an electronic contract management and monitoring system, which utilises hand-held PDAs to issue work instructions, log completed work and record supervisory inspection checks.

Commenting on the award of the contract, Councillor Hilary Fryer, Charnwood Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Cleansing and Open Spaces, said: “This represents brilliant value for money for our residents as well as meeting our very high standards of quality which have helped make our open spaces among the best in Leicestershire.”