Last year the council tendered for two tree surgery contracts and one for young trees in a bid to employ more local firms. Those three contracts have now been won by Glendale, City Suburban Tree Surgery and Gristwood & Toms. The latter has the young tree contract, covering both new planting and maintaining the 30 per cent of trees in the borough that are under 15cm in diameter.
Tree officer Andy Tipping explained that while there are many good small tree firms that do domestic work, many are too small to bid for big local authority contracts. To resolve this the new contracts require the large firms to subcontract a percentage of the contract to smaller firms within the borough before the contract starts in April.
Tipping added that splitting off tree surgery from small trees will help create more specialists, which will benefit the city as a whole. "At the moment every tree contractor who wins contracts is expected to do everything - stump grinding, young trees, pruning etc. We wanted to cut it down into smaller lots of work," he explained.
"The guy who plants a tree and likes getting his spade out and tidying around the base of the tree is different from the guy who likes using a chainsaw at the top of the tree. Expecting the chainsaw guy to be happy with secateurs and a half moon may not work, and the planting guy probably doesn't want to do noisy dangerous work anymore, so it's horses for courses."
In addition, the contract also contains a graduated pricing structure for trees, giving each tree an exact price rather than putting trees in bandings - a change that arboriculturists have hailed as much fairer.