The cathedral town of Guildford in Surrey is very mindful of its appearance and well recognised for it, having collected an array of Britain in Bloom and Chelsea Flower Show awards over the years.
It is the latest municipal authority to introduce Pellenc battery-powered hand equipment into the upkeep of its amenity and leisure facilities. The parks department of Guildford Borough Council, which is responsible for all of town's amenity grass and flora as well as having a contract with Surrey County Council for highways work, purchased a number of Pellenc products from their local dealer Richmonds Grounds Care of Haslemere.
According to the department's Operational Supervisor, Arthur Kinge, the decision to add this alternative to petrol-powered machines to what is available to its 38 full-time staff was part environmental, part economic. Two of Pellenc's Airion vacuum blowers, Helion hedgecutter and two pole saws have been in regular use for a wide range of duties in the town for a year now and been well received by operators and the public. The idea is they are very much a multi-use resource and not just for specific tasks.
"We always try to be progressive," he said. "I first saw Pellenc equipment at SALTEX a couple of years ago and was impressed. Our policy is always to keep trialling new equipment to see if we can do things more efficiently and to find new solutions to problems. It's part of a conscious effort by the Council to make better business sense of equipment resources rather than cutting back on machines, manpower or jobs. These machines are lighter and cost less to run than their petrol equivalents, but we have a lot of petrol machinery here that functions well, so changing over completely to battery power will be a gradual process dictated by feedback and budgets.
"Hand-arm vibration is one of the biggest issues we have when sourcing equipment. Keeping to within a tally of 400 points per user per machine makes achieving optimum efficiency a constant challenge. The Pellenc equipment is well suited to offering a full day of safe and comfortable usage.
"We always have to be especially mindful of noise levels, especially for work near schools and residential areas. The battery-powered blowers and hedge trimmers have extremely low levels and do efficient jobs much more quietly than petrol machines."
Within the remit of the Parks and Countryside Service is the 52-hectare Stoke Park and Gardens, now in its fifth year of Green Flag status. This multi-purpose facility dates back to the 18th century and plays host to the Surrey County Show and Guilfest three day music festival.
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Pictured above: (top image) Guildford Borough Council Parks and Countryside Service Chargehand gardener Paula Pennington uses the Pellenc Helion hedgecutter to trim box hedging in Quaker's Acre. This tranquil garden is a much valued feature in the town centre and includes a memorial to the victims of the 1974 IRA pub bombing. (bottom image) An Airion vacuum blower is used to tidy the entrance to the walled garden in Stoke Park.