Cornwall college team uses IOG SALTEX show to help them 'work smart'
Established in 1929 to meet the training needs of local industry, Cornwall College has grown to be the largest further and higher education college in the UK, with over 58,000 students and an annual budget of 55 million (pounds sterling).
For Grounds Supervisor Robert Lawrence, the challenge is the management of five geographically dispersed campus sites (Falmouth, Newquay, St. Austell, Saltash and Camborne) with a relatively small staff that includes two full-time personnel, one part time worker and two trainees.
"We've become adept at managing our resources across these locations - but it often requires miracle planning and split-second timing to ensure we stay on top of all the various grounds maintenance activities," he says. As part of his 'working clever' strategy, he ensures that all new landscape designs incorporate low-maintenance planting.
For Robert Lawrence, researching the latest techniques and products that help to reduce the team's workload is a priority - which is why he finds IOG SALTEX, Europe's leading exhibition for the landscaping, sports and amenity industries (7-9 September 2004, Windsor), such a valuable event.
"Everything you could possibly require information on is at the show," he says. "Last year, for example, we were particularly interested in learning about new mulches and the latest developments in pesticides, and it was great to be able to talk directly with suppliers and review all available options."
Alongside creating landscape designs for new buildings, the grounds team is also responsible for maintaining a number of multi-use sports pitches, a new artificial pitch and external sports areas.
"I was impressed by the range of machinery and equipment that was on view at the show and the manufacturers took time to talk with us, understand our issues and to show us the products," he continues.
"Attending the exhibition has made it easier for me to plan for the upgrade of our equipment and to review the latest developments in technology - all at one event."
The team is already planning a two-day visit to this year's show to research the latest wood chipping technologies and a range of other specialist areas including new sprays and spraying techniques.
"Last year was our first visit to IOG SALTEX and I was extremely impressed by the event," says Robert Lawrence. "In addition, the choice of seminar programmes at the show means that alongside researching products you gain an invaluable opportunity to learn about the latest innovations and initiatives for open space, landscape and grounds maintenance."
For a team that is often challenged by the range of activities and the widespread geographic locations of its sites, Robert Lawrence believes the investment in time required to visit the event last year has already paid benefits:
"The visit we made to IOG SALTEX last year has helped us reduce our work time, and to utilise our skills with new techniques and products to ensure we maximise the resources available to us. No other event we've experienced can give us such a breadth of opportunity in one single hit."
Scottish landscape architect has designs on the IOG SALTEX show- every year
Just 50 miles from the mainland and an hour's flight away from both Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Western Isles off the north west coast of Scotland are a magical location. Exposed to the full blast of the Atlantic, the islands of Lewis, Harris, North and South Uist, Benbeccula, Eriskay, Vatisay and Barra represent some of the most remote landscapes in Scotland.
For Robert Stubbington, Landscape Architect within the technical services department of the Western Isles Council, the challenges he faces in delivering services are unique.
"It can take anything up to two days for me to complete a site visit to some locations using ferries and internal flights and, of course, we have to take account of the unique environment we operate in for every project that we plan and undertake," he explains.
Countryside access and supporting the Western Isles Quality of Life initiative are just some of the activities that Robert Stubbington is involved with. The wide and varied remit he works under includes the design of environmental community schemes, entrance features to new buildings, play areas, community gardens, sensory gardens, picnic and footpath links, as well as capital projects such as sports centres, sports fields, outdoor school classrooms, residential care homes, country parks, ferry terminals, cemetery refurbishment and business parks.
"We get involved in the design of schools, leisure and playground facilities, as well as social projects such as housing and road scheme maintenance," he explains. "In all cases, we have to carefully assess the environmental impact of everything we do.
"Many of our activities are grant funded and we work closely with the local communities to ensure we allow for regeneration by re-introducing local flora and fauna. Local community volunteers collect seeds for us to ensure we contribute to maintaining the landscape as closely as possible to original."
This continuing practice of the crofting tradition means there is a high level of environmental awareness among local people, and consultation with local community groups throughout the design process is a key element of his department's activities.
Wherever possible, Robert Stubbington incorporates local materials in his designs and uses local artists, including dry stone wall specialists to ensure projects gain acceptance and work within the local surroundings.
Attending the IOG SALTEX exhibition (7-9 September, Windsor) is a major investment of time and resources for Robert Stubbington. The annual event brings together the leading providers and innovations in landscape design and architecture, facilities management, leisure and grounds management. For Robert Stubbington and his team, the exhibition offers a valuable opportunity to update knowledge and view the latest cutting edge concepts in the world of open space design and management.
"The event provides me with an ideal networking opportunity to talk with contractors and other councils," he says. "Over the three days of IOG SALTEX, I can gain access to the latest ideas, and view for myself the latest equipment, products and materials. No other event provides such a broad scope of opportunity."
The ability to view a huge range of products and to initiate relationships with existing and potential suppliers also makes it easy for Robert Stubbington to plan for the year ahead. "I can see such a diverse choice of services, from play equipment through to conservation products in one place - all of which would be difficult for me to achieve at any other event."
IOG SALTEX 2004 (7-9 September, Windsor Racecourse, Berks) embraces fine turf and sports, turf maintenance equipment, children's play and safety surfacing, commercial vehicles, leisure and facilities management and software as well as security equipment, and is aimed at everyone involved in open space management - from Groundsmen and Greenkeepers through to architects, landscapers, designers and surveyors as well as local authority and leisure facility managers. Log onto www.iogsaltex.co.uk or call 020 8232 1600 for more information.