Dover District Council to target Green Flag after bringing grounds maintenance back in-house

Dover District Council (DDC) has brought the maintenance of its parks and open spaces in-house following the end of its last outsourced maintenance contract.

The lake and Grade II-listed bridge at Kearney Abbey. Image: Ian Capper/Geograph
The lake and Grade II-listed bridge at Kearney Abbey. Image: Ian Capper/Geograph

The change took effect on 1 April 2017, and will be delivered by a team of 25 directly-employed staff, most of whom have been transferred under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE) from the former maintenance supplier.

Head of parks and open spaces Roger Wragg said: "Our parks and open spaces are important local amenities which people value highly. We’re fortunate to have some of the best public parks in East Kent.

Taking maintenance back in-house would give the parks service greater control said Wragg. "We want everyone to take pride in these great assets and to be able to use to them to their full potential." The move is cost-neutral in terms of revenue, althoughthe council will need to put in some additional capital expenditure in year one to buy kit. 

Dover District Council owns 25 parks and open spaces, ranging from historic parkland such as Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens in Dover, and strips of coastal land such as Walmer Seafront, to small open spaces popular with local people such as Poulders Gardens in Sandwich. 

None have Green Flags, so raising standards so the district is awarded some is a key aim of the new team.

Kearnsey Abbey and Russell Gardens were awarded £3.1 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund in July 2016, as part of nearly £31m awarded in total. 

It will continue to work closely with local partners, including the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership and the Heritage Lottery funded ‘Up on the Downs’ Landscape Partnership, which is protecting and opening up the area’s rare chalk grassland. 

Wragg said the council had "a clear strategy for investment and maintenance" adding: "By taking maintenance back in-house we’ll be able to deliver a more flexible and responsive service."

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