A successful event was hosted by Wakefield MDC - 43 representatives attended, from 15 councils, based in the North of England. The aim of the event was the promotion of best working practices, using pesticides, within the amenity sector.
The seminar was held at the Woolley Hall Conference Centre, Wakefield
Bob Joice from the Amenity Forum opened the conference by announcing the role of the Amenity Forum and the benefits gained by sharing information and promoting services. He also was pleased to have the support of such distinguished speakers who are passionate about the industry and want to raise the profile of the industry at every opportunity.
Bob finally concluded that he would like to see other Councils embracing the opportunity to set up their own Regional Forum Groups to promote best practices and create another vehicle for networking.
Speakers included: Grant Stark - Pesticides Safety Directorate; Paul Singleton - B.A.S.I.S; Geoff Wilson - Vale Sprayers; Stephen Brear - Wakefield MDC and Mark Dempsey - Calderdale MBC.
The opening presentation by Grant stark outlined the potential impacts of the recent vote on the forthcoming European pesticide legislation and how this would affect the amenity sector.
Paul Singleton then identified the role of B.A.S.I.S within the industry and the improvements that the "Amenity Assured" scheme had made - improving contracting standards and raising awareness within the amenity sector.
Paul also awarded two of the delegates Davis Wein and Trevor Heptinstall from Doncaster Council certificates having sucessfully undertaken and passed the BASIS POWER Exam. The pair had been trained by Geoff Wilson of Geoff Wilson Training.
Geoff Wilson then had a interactive session with the group, identifying spraying issues such as drift, drift reduction techniques and the benefits of the National Sprayer Testing Scheme and the National Register of Spray Operators.
Stephen Brear then outlined the background and positive benefits of developing and using NVQ's in-house. The need to identify some of the skills gaps, left by years of neglect and lack of investment, in gardening skills with municipal grounds maintenance and then using NVQ's to raise the standard of horticultural knowledge and improving the range of basic gardening skills required within the amenity sector.
Mark Dempsey completed the seminar by exploring the idea of developing a "Best Gardener" Competition - trying to judge practical gardening and theory based skill tests in a competition format within the Forum's council members. With potential to roll out to a national level in 2010. He then closed the meeting by identifying the role, scope and future direction of the Northern Amenity Forum.
Mark Dempsey stated: "Since the Northern Amenity Forum was only formed in July 2008, we have managed to develop into a sizeable group of councils, based within the North of England, that now has a voice within the industry. The Forum is listened to by decision makers and has enabled like minded council officers to share knowledge and information, plus allows us to network in areas other than just pesticide applications, which can only be a positive thing".
Gary Harland, as organizer of this event, was very pleased with the turnout - he stated: "Everyone who said they would attend, did so and this can only bode well for the future of the Forum. It was an enjoyable day, very much helped by some excellent presentations and I would like to thank all the speakers for their contributions."
The next forum meeting is planned to be held in Doncaster, in July 2009.