We are are often asked what Birchwood Town Council's precept pays for. In addition to the statutory duties and administrative functions carried out by Officers, we also have a pro-active maintenance team which undertakes many services for our local residents.
The Town Council delivers a number of additional 'added value' services in the area.
Broadly speaking this is some of the work the Maintenance Team carries out:
- Litter picking.
- Emptying waste bins.
- Reporting/removing flytipped waste.
- Intermediate grass cuts (in addition to the grass cuts undertaken by the Borough Council).
- Gritting, and removing snow from some main walkways, in the winter.
- Cleansing of street name plates and signage.
- Cutting back shrubbery on roadsides, to improve sightlines.
- Maintenance on footpaths, i.e. cutting back shrubs, and removing overhanging branches, etc.
- Blowing leaves off footpaths in autumn.
- Removing graffiti.
- Installation, removal, and watering of hanging baskets around the shopping centre (paid for by the landlords).
- Planting and maintenance of raised planters.
- Visual checks/cleaning of a number of local play areas.
- Reporting abandoned trolleys for collection.
- Other miscellaneous maintenance in the area.
List of Duties - Maintenance Team – Birchwood Town Council
This list is not exhaustive and the team must react to emergencies and miscellaneous requirements as deemed necessary by the Council.
The Maintenance Team is currently comprised of 6 members - 5 full time staff and 1 - part time staff.
Litter picking - (All staff - Locking stumps, Birchwood, Gorse Covert and Risley Village)
With the exception of the majority of the business areas, and the high speed roads, the team litter picks all main roads under 40mph, local shop car parks and all of the residential footpaths and roadside verges on a scheduled basis. Some are picked once a week, some twice a week, others are picked every two weeks and some every three to four weeks. There are at least two full tipper truckloads of litter bags to dispose of each week, often there are more.
The team is fully trained in the removal of sharps and needles, therefore if they come across any such items, they are able to remove them; rather than having to report them and wait for the Borough Council to attend.
The community play areas and multi-use games areas are litter picked each day (Monday to Friday) and visually checked for any obvious issues, such as vandalism to play equipment, which would then be reported on to the landowner; usually the Borough Council.
Fly tipping – The team checks out reports of fly tipping; if we can remove items we do!
Sometimes we are instructed to leave items in situ in order for the Borough Council or local housing organisations to investigate – which is why some areas do not have fly tipped items or rubbish removed for some time. Items fly tipped on YHG land is usually removed to their container by BTC’s team.
There are some fly tipped items which we do not have the necessary licence to remove; these have to be dealt with by the relevant landlord (such as fridges/freezers and electrical goods). We report these as necessary.
Dog waste – Although it is not the responsibility of the Town Council to clean up after irresponsible dog owners; occasionally the team will remove some waste if it is deemed to be in an area where it is almost unavoidable that it will be stood in; such as outside a school gate.
Litter bins – there are 40+ litter bins in the area that our team empty at least twice weekly; on a Monday and Friday. (In some areas, such as Birchwood Forest Park, there are additional litter bins that the Borough Council has the responsibility for emptying.)
Shrub cutting (when we have the landowner's permission). The team cuts shrubbery where there are sight line issues and any routes that mowing will take place. The larger cutting work takes at least 4 staff off the litter picking rota and 2 vans, leaving just 1 team litter picking all 3 areas.
Where we have permission, the team will undertake shrubbery cutting/scraping and blowing work to keep footpaths open and passable. Given the size of Birchwood and the nature of the area, with such a large amount of greenery, this takes up a lot of time.
The team has to be careful during the nesting season, so as not to disturb any nesting birds. As a general rule we do not deal with much of the area for which Your Housing Group has responsibility, as their contractors are paid by Your Housing to undertake the shrubbery and tree maintenance in those areas, however, on occasion the team will do some pre-agreed work, mainly for health and safety reasons.
As the team often has to cut back the shrubbery and overhangs which would impede the operatives when they are grass cutting; whilst they are doing this, other services have to be covered a much as possible by the other members of the team, it might mean that a road normally picked twice a week will only be picked once at present.
Due to reduced resources at present the team is not able to undertake as much shrub cutting as they would like. They would prefer to be able to undertake cutting more proactively to keep the whole area looking tidier, as used to be the case when BTC had a larger maintenance team (of 7 or 8 staff).
Footpath scraping – This is undertaken on an ad hoc basis when necessary and time is available in the schedule. This can be very time consuming.
Leaf blowing – As Birchwood Town Council has the only team in the area that undertakes leaf blowing, this is needed on a regular basis due to the extensive foliage in the area especially in autumn and winter to try to keep residents safe from slips and trips.
Leaves will usually be blown into bushes where we know they will mulch down wherever possible. In some instances the team has no choice but to brush up, bag and remove the leaves to dispose of them; due to the amount of trees and shrubbery throughout Birchwood, just one road can create a few tonnes of leaves, which is why it is not practical to remove them in all cases.
Hanging baskets – We look after hanging baskets around the shopping centre and entrance to the high school which all need to be watered 2-3 times a week dependent on the weather. This involves collecting the water barrels and filling them and the bowser. This task takes at least half a day each time and requires 1 van and sometimes 2 staff.
Planters – We maintain 14 planters throughout Birchwood. This involves watering twice a week during the summer months. We also collect and plant the flowers needed for these on a regular basis as they are sometimes stolen or vandalised. We top up regularly with compost and remove any waste and litter. We also carry out repairs and maintenance to protect the planters from the elements; including painting/varnishing.
Grass cutting – We complete grass cutting on a 4 weeks on, 4 weeks off rota basis through the cutting season. At the same time as the mowing schedule is operating, we are still doing the planters and hanging baskets and are then down to 1 team litter picking for the area and answering any emergencies that come in. We also have to blow the paths after mowing and check for any debris or obstacles in the grass, this includes litter picking each area before starting the mow.
Roundabout cleaning – we maintain each of the small roundabouts in Birchwood, this includes, cleaning and scraping. (Weed spraying work, such as roadside verges, is the responsibility of other organisations on their land.)
Graffiti removal – Completed when needed and we are able - but a time-consuming task. Offensive graffiti will be removed as soon as possible, and/or reported to the Borough Council where we are unable to remove it. There are some places where we cannot clean graffiti, including on private property and where the surface would potentially be damaged either with a jet-spray or cleaning chemicals.
Gritting – In winter we must collect our own grit from Warrington Borough Council and can only get a tonne at a time due to weight restrictions with the vans, so this takes a fair few trips. The grit then needs to be handballed into sacks and manually spread around the area. We spread around high risk areas such as traffic light crossings, schools, slopes, doctors, bridges, local shops etc.
The grit bins around the area should be filled by WBC, our team occasionally has to top them up.
Bus stop maintenance – We maintain two bus stops in the area owned by the Town Council this includes graffiti removal, cleaning and painting. These bus stops currently require some significant maintenance – to be undertaken as soon as possible.
Bulb planting – We have undertaken a bulb planting project at the Fire station roundabout (approximately 2000 bulbs all manually planted). This also includes the maintenance and cleaning of the roundabout, as agreed with Warrington Borough Council.
Notice boards – Keeping the information updated on the boards and cleaning/maintaining them when necessary.
Jet washing – As the Town Council owns the land and grounds around the Youth and Community Centre adjacent to the Town Council offices (the only piece of land in addition to our own car park and offices that it owns) the team undertakes work to maintain around the building; e.g. repairing damaged paving, jet washing the pathways, mowing the grass and cutting the hedge.
Equipment and tools – Members of the team are fully trained and certificated in the work that they undertake. This includes training regarding the maintenance and servicing of their equipment. We complete all basic maintenance and safety checks of all our tools and equipment. Occasionally we will take a piece of equipment to a specialist supplier if there is a fault that the team is unable or unqualified to fix themselves.
Work vans – We complete basic maintenance, safety checks and cleaning/jet washing of our fleet of work vans. Each van has a daily check before going on to the road to ensure tyres, lights, washers, etc. are all okay.
Trolleys – Reporting abandoned trolleys for collection – occasionally bringing damaged trolleys back to the office for collection.
General maintenance - We undertake painting, decorating and general maintenance to the Parkers farm site and offices.
Papers delivery – Delivery of monthly papers, letters, etc., as necessary to Council Members.
Emergencies – We also react to any emergency calls from residents such as broken glass, tree falls, needles and sharps (all staff are trained in needles and sharps procedures) and fly tipping.
Five members of the Maintenance Team are fully first aid at work trained; one has undertaken a basic first aid training courses.
Miscellaneous issues - The Town Council sometimes gets called upon to assist with various ad hoc issues. We might be called upon to try to reunite people with lost property, help in the search for a local vulnerable missing person, catch a chicken that has got loose, take a lost animal to the vets, move a large piece of equipment for a community group, remove offensive graffiti, take down illegal posters and banners that are causing safety issues, and so on.
Members of the team assist on the day at the annual Birchwood Carnival. The team also cleans road and street signs.
The above is not an exhaustive list of what the Town Council does, but gives some insight into the various types of work that the team undertakes as part of their duties.
The Town Council is also a statutory consultee for planning applications in Birchwood, and represents residents views on matters of local importance.
In our day to day activities, we work alongside other Councils, local housing associations, schools, the shopping centre, and local businesses, to keep the area clean and safe for all to enjoy.
We are often contacted by residents enquiring about pest control services, regarding rats, wasps, squirrels, etc.
Unfortunately, pest control is not a service that the Town Council can offer.
Warrington Borough Council does offer pest control services. For details of the Borough Council's pest control services, click here.