The Groundsman

April 2015

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Visit for more information and digital editions COMMENT 3 the Groundsman April 2015 hile the main focus of the candidates in next month's general election seems to be the live TV debates, we've heard very little about how their policies may affect our industry. The Institute of Groundsmanshiip (IOG) has strong links with The Parks Alliance which has listed a number of demands for the winning party: • Appoint a Minister for Parks, ensuring the person has a good understanding of the sector and meets with its representatives as a matter of urgency. • Invest in the sector to help it generate its own income. Further cuts will lead to inefficiency and few tangible savings. • Establish an independent national commission to investigate the issues UK parks face; issues highlighted by the Heritage Lottery Fund's 2014 report, The State of the UK's Public Parks. • Work with local authorities to provide and protect funding for parks, which are vital to the nation's health and well-being. • Work with local authorities to identify a 'Park Champion' in each council. • Support the creation of a national standard to map and measure the quality of all green spaces. Historically, many IOG members have worked in parks but as services are cut, redundancies made and pay is frozen or reduced, vital skills have been lost to the public sector. However, it appears that the cuts look set to continue - whatever party comes into power. From a sports perspective, the turf industry is suffering from the fact that many of the natural turf pitches located in parks are no longer being managed, which reduces both the quality and quantity of available playing surfaces. Indeed, the 'state of play' is so bad that sport's national governing bodies are suffering with falling participation rates in some cases - despite continued investment and innovative programmes. The result is disaffected players, cancelled games and entire clubs folding under the strain of hand to mouth investment. Our sector resides in the non-statutory category and it is therefore difficult to see where investment will come from. The IOG is working on new guidelines for sports surfaces and the sports bodies are also looking at this to gauge levels of understanding and commitment with the aim of getting the most out of the many facilities that, with some basic advice, could be turned around. In order to improve awareness and understanding of natural turf, the UK needs a framework and guidance to operate from in order to improve the current stock of playing surfaces. This will be an area to watch post-election. We'd be interested to know what your demands might be to the next government. Send your comments to and entitle the email 'Government demands'. We will share the most common and popular demands. It's your industry and you can play a direct role in helping to improve it. Also, please encourage more people to become members of the IOG - the more members we have then the louder our voice and the better our representation. Geoff Webb, Chief Executive, The Institute of Groundsmanship Power Play W From a sports perspective, the turf industry itself is suffering from the fact that many natural turf pitches located in parks are no longer managed, which reduces both the quality and quantity of available playing surfaces " " Contributors Mike King Vitax sales manager Colin Hoskins Features editor Dr Ruth Mann STRI agronomist Penny Comerford Comms manager Ecosolve Tam Henderson Independent copywriter Chris Bassett Managing director, Fusion Media

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