Sandra Loton-Jones told guests at the BALI National Landscape Awards 2009 that she made "no apology" for the body's "efforts to promote its members as safe and trustworthy contractors". She highlighted the 18 per cent increase in the number of rogue traders reported to the Office of Fair Trading in the past year to a record 4,000 complaints (HW, 20 November). The value of training should not be undervalued, she added.
"Job losses in other industries and low barriers to entry in our sector have resulted in increasing numbers of people starting up as landscapers," explained Loton-Jones. "It is important to recognise the importance of training."
Guest speaker was BBC Rogue Traders presenter Matt Allwright. During the awards - which were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 4 December - chairman of the adjudication panel David Spencer said the high value of projects entered had been unexpected.
"The total of this year's entries was just short of £63m, when we fully expected that to be down due to the credit crunch," he explained. "It is pleasing to know people will still find money for the very best in landscaping."
The Grand Award went to Water Gems (Alba) for its work on Inverleith Terrace in Edinburgh, while another 27 categories recognised projects ranging from small domestic to major commercial schemes.