Angus Lindsay, idverde’s Head of Assets & Fleet, ponders the current sufferings of the supply chain, as well as how management of open spaces could change post-pandemic.
As we emerge from several weeks’ lockdown, which will hopefully have paid off and see some sort of control over the Coronavirus pandemic, our world as we know it, whilst familiar, has changed considerably. We cannot praise enough the work of all the essential workers who have kept the country moving and looked after those struck down by Covid-19, and I personally want to thank all those in the supply chain who have kept things moving.
It has not been an easy time and we are far from returning to where we were six months ago. Despite the lockdown and ban on all but essential travel, the criminal fraternity continues to wreak havoc, with many business suffering significant thefts over the last few weeks. In one such event a bowling club lost all their equipment, but the break-in was not investigated by the police. However, when the same club organised a demo of a replacement mower, which was done in accordance with social distancing guidelines, they were then visited by the police over reports of an illegal gathering!
Whilst the initial lockdown was challenging, gearing everything back up to come out of it is a significantly greater hurdle to surmount, and it is interesting to observe people’s reaction during this period. As businesses start to return the breaks in the supply chain begin to show themselves. The vehicle forecourts may be open for business but the manufacturing plants behind them are several months behind in production and struggling to get components through their supply chain.
It’s hardly surprising that new machine sales have seen a significant drop but it looks as if we have all managed to keep going in some form or other by utilising what we have available. Many suppliers have had to face the harsh financial reality of orders being cancelled, which has seen their turnover halved. On the plus side, and thanks to the good weather, many people have rediscovered their garden and as a consequence the sale of equipment to the homeowner has helped off-set the losses to the commercial sector.
As mentioned in my last article, it is encouraging that there has been recognition of the value of our parks and open spaces and the part they play in maintaining well-being, not just for us as humans, but wildlife and the planet in general. Maybe the changes following Coronavirus will see a further change in the way these sites are managed as local authority budgets will again be under huge pressure, with the focus being on health, welfare and social care. Could these sites come under the control of friends groups, external organisations or a completely new government department?
As we recover from the lockdown and with new social distancing regimes in place, many businesses won’t survive and redundancies are inevitable, which will see a significant amount of willing labour on the market. Hopefully this will see a change of direction for some people who, having spent long periods at home, now look to horticulture and the landscaping sector for their next career move. Could this then mean a return to more people working in our parks and gardens and them being managed more as a multi-functional asset rather than just an open space? People need these environments to get away from the daily pressures of life, and they should be maintained as green havens of tranquillity, litter-free, safe, and above all, to show off what we can do as an industry.
Angus’s article is also published in the August 2020 issue of Pro Landscaper magazine.