When you’re among the 10 largest local authorities in Britain, your amenity and sports turf management needs are large too. Unitary authority Wirral Borough Council in Merseyside brought its highway maintenance work in-house two years ago, specifying John Deere machinery for the task.
Under its latest parks modernisation programme, the council has chosen John Deere once again, buying some £750,000 worth of equipment for diverse duties on its country parks – the council opened Britain’s first at Wirral Way – football and rugby pitches, four municipal golf courses, cricket squares and other public parks and open spaces.
“We decided to replace our old fleet of machinery – a mixture of makes and models, some dating back nearly 40 years,” explains Bill Hancox, the council’s acting operations and support manager, who runs a team of mechanics servicing no fewer than 1000 items of council equipment.
The council had reversed its original decision to turn to a private contractor and went out to tender for the extensive maintenance equipment fleet it would need to service the country’s sixth largest grass acreage under local authority control.
“Under the modernisation programme, the council looked carefully at health and safety issues surrounding operatives as well as the cost-effectiveness of it contracting out the service,” says Bill Hancox. “Quality and price were our deciding factors. Wirral is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water, so corrosion resistance was an important consideration, as well as noise levels plus lower arm and whole body vibration among the operatives.”
Running costs and reliability benefits also prompted the council to specify diesel powered machines for the new fleet. “They are not so prone to moisture and general damp as petrol units,” adds Bill Hancox.
Altogether 51 items of John Deere equipment have been supplied to Wirral Borough Council by Turner Groundscare of Tarvin, Chester, which has been a John Deere dealership for 20 years and boasts a combined sales experience of 120 years in the turf care industry.
The new fleet includes eight 5080M 80hp tractors; one 6115M 115hp tractor; eight 1026R sub-compact tractors with six front loaders and three rotary mower decks; six 1565 front rotary mowers; two XUV 550 4x4 petrol Gator utility vehicles for the council’s ranger service; 15 220SL walk-behind cylinder greens mowers and five 220E hybrid electric models with floating heads; four 2653B triplex utility mowers for the council’s golf courses; an X758 lawn tractor complete with a 1.2m (48in) rotary mower deck and 580H materials collection system; and a TC125 core collector.