Seaham residents enjoy the benefits of 'Cut & Collect'
After starting work as an apprentice with Seaham Town Council some 20 years ago, Dan Cahill has recently taken on the role as Operations Manager for the Parks Department. ‘Parks’ may sound simple but Dan’s departmental remit covers two cricket fields, two football pitches, two cemeteries, three major recreational areas plus various other green spaces. However, there are a few further complications in that the Parks Department looks after land either managed, or owned, by Seaham Town Council as well as land that comes under the jurisdiction of Durham County Council and the Londonderrys.
Mr. Cahill explains the set-up, ‘I inherited a Kubota tractor with a Wessex mowing deck, a 54” Dennis cylinder mower and a Hayter triple mower plus a team of 12 staff to cover the area. It was already a challenge to cover all of the areas required with the resources available, but with my focus being very much directed at improving these areas, it was proving to be a major change’. Mr. Cahill’s plans included cutting both the cricket outfields twice a week as well as the football pitches. In season this could increase to three times a week to counter lush growing conditions and allow him to present the areas as he would wish.
However, none of the machines that were inherited could collect and the days of raking and carrying needed to be a thing of the past. In May 2013, Mr. Cahill and his team arranged for a demonstration of an Amazone Profihopper via his local dealer Lloyd Ltd from Throckley, near Newcastle. Although the demonstration took place on one of the football pitches, it quickly became clear to those present that many of their operational problems around the town could be resolved with the Profihopper. While Seaham is one of the larger Town Councils in the country, it was after further investigation, and consideration as to whether the funds were available, that the decision was made to purchase a unit.
The arrival of the new four-wheel drive Profihopper meant that the real challenge to improve Seaham’s green spaces could begin – pitches, parks and amenity areas – the improvement in presentation to the general public by cutting and collecting.
The new purchase was completing each pitch in 90 minutes so the target of cutting two or three times a week when required could be easily achieved with the additional benefit that the presentation was now first-class. But they also found that, with the ability of the Profihopper to be equipped with scarifying blades, which can be fitted simultaneously with the mowing blades without using tools, Seaham were then completing a light verticut at the same time - saving the time previously taken up with the Turf Rake. This is leaving now more time to undertake any top dressing duties, etc. on all of the pitches not just the main football pitch.
On to the Parks – Seaham hosts two general ‘Welfare’ parks from the town’s mining history; one with cricket, football, bowls and playgrounds as well as a formal Victorian park complete with extensive flower planting. Again the focus is now placed on improving the facilities and the presentation. With large numbers of trees in and around the parks, an Arboriculture team got to work crown lifting many areas. The results are speaking for themselves with more people enjoying a lighter and airier environment with reduced incidents of nuisance. Another change to help save time and cost is the greater use of perennials in the flower beds to replace some of the bedding plants used in the past. Dan goes on to comment, ‘The Profihopper saves a lot of time leaf collecting – it beats 3 or 4 rakes and all that lifting into trailers. The leaves, along with grass and soil collected during the year, are stored in our ‘Green Waste’ area for future use when it has composted’.
And so as the purchase comes up to its first birthday, what other benefits has the Profihopper helped deliver? The Profihopper has replaced much of the work carried out by the old triple unit as, even though it was purchased for its cut & collect performance, by fitting the mulch flap the Profihopper is also perfect for cut & drop if so required as well.
It’s now easy to put the Profihopper onto the trailer and take it to that pitch that needs cutting. Once the pitch is finished, the operator then completes any other cutting work required in the locality. Then its time for lunch and then on to the next pitch/area and so on; this new schedule is working well. The improvement to ALL areas is easy to see where, for example, along the seafront ‘tourist areas’ the removal of the grass clippings is proving to be welcoming boon for visitors who wish to picnic – and the town wants these people to come back.
And Dan’s parting comment, ‘If I was able too, I would have a couple of Profihoppers to widen the efforts my team and I are putting in because, if the conditions are right, there is always something the machine can do. We have achieved a great deal, with all of our green spaces looking more manicured, but I would like to more still’ And although it takes time to achieve that ultimate goal, Seaham’s first Profihopper has gone a long way along that path so far.