Tenant audits of grounds maintenance works help improve neighbourhoods

A team of ForHousing tenants have been keeping tabs on the work being done in their communities, by carrying out audits of grounds maintenance work.

Grounds maintenance work is delivered for ForHousing by property services firm Liberty. In Salford alone, Liberty looks after more than 500 sites and is responsible for maintaining green spaces and hedges, playground inspections, tree and shrubbery inspections and other operational work.

ForHousing’s grounds maintenance tenant audit team plays a vital role in ensuring high quality work is delivered by Liberty, ensuring the local environment is continuously improved to support stronger, sustainable communities.

The team of three tenants – Carol Mawers, Janette Ball and Lillian Johnson – cover 12 sites from Irlam to Little Hulton, together inspecting a different area each month and also meeting monthly with grounds maintenance staff to feedback and review findings.

Team member Carol, from Walkden, explained how the audits work. She said: “Each month we go out and thoroughly inspect one of the neighbourhoods and how the green spaces have been maintained. We use a map to ensure we cover the whole area and have a list of things we are looking for and will rate how well these are being looked after. For example, we are looking to see if the paths are clear, is there litter, does the grass need cutting and are there things that could be done to improve the local environment further?

“We also look for ways to achieve best value for money, and how the grounds could be maintained more efficiently so that we can reduce the grounds maintenance charge for residents.”

The team’s feedback has led to improvements in the local environment in many of ForHousing’s neighbourhoods.

On the Old Lane Estate in Little Hulton, the team spotted that the only green spaces on the estate were the grass verges. They worked with staff to have colourful flower beds planted in the verges at the entrance to the neighbourhood near the community hub and involved local children in sowing the seeds.

Carol said: “Each year we go to a flower festival to see which plants and flowers might work best, which are the brightest and last longest so that people can enjoy them as much as possible.”

Carol also explained how simple steps to adjust how green public spaces are maintained can make a real difference to people’s quality of life.

“In one neighbourhood in Swinton, we noticed that high, wide bushes outside a block of flats could be a potential issue for anti-social behaviour. We were worried that people entering and leaving the building on their own, especially women, wouldn’t be able to see around them easily or be seen if an ASB incident happened.”

Carol and her colleagues arranged with staff for the bushes to be cut back significantly to increase visibility.

On the team’s plans for the year ahead, Carol said: “This year I’m looking forward to continuing our work and also planning a gardening competition to be run across Salford. We did it a couple of years ago and it was unbelievable to see how it brought lots of gardens on and the effort people put in. It brought the look of the neighbourhoods right up.

Carol concluded: “I love working on grounds maintenance audits. The grounds maintenance staff are brilliant and complete their work to a really high standard consistently – there has been no slip in standards all year. We recently, with other tenants, saved up to give the team an award to show them our appreciation for all their hard work.

“We really are one big team of staff and tenants, working together to improve neighbourhoods and get best value for money.”