Bob Ivison tells landscape industry it must face challenges

Consultant says landscape contractors must grasp implications of changes affecting profession.

Landscape contractors are failing to grasp challenges thrown up by the big political and planning changes of the past few years, a leading consultant has warned.

Bob Ivison said budget cuts, "Big Society", localism and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) have created a greater need to debate the changing political and professional landscapes and look at good practice on issues such as sustainable development.

"The complexity of the changes suggests there needs to be an opportunity for people such as grounds maintenance contractors to come together to understand what this is all about and how they can benefit," he told an audience at BALI, the 2012 Landscaping Show last week.

"There is information in the NPPF on how decisions within that framework are made at the lowest level. How many contractors have got involved with local communities to discuss the way their local park will change in the future?

"How many local contractors have become involved in talks with local enterprise partnerships, which will have funding and some role in determining how things change? I suspect not many. Contractors need to be part of those talks."

Ivison told visitors about the recent partnership between BALI and the National Contractors Forum, which he was instrumental in setting up earlier this year (HW, 29 February).

He added: "This can provide a stronger lobbying and promotional platform and run events on particular business and operational needs. We are in an ever-changing political landscape and can help shape the future for parks' and green spaces' management and maintenance."

Creating dialogue

"The forum won't just deal with contractors. We want an open dialogue with training providers, colleges, local suppliers, nurseries and manufacturers - everyone in the supply chain who deals with green spaces." - Bob Ivison, co-chairman, National Contractors Forum.

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