What is the Amenity Standard?
The Amenity Standard is a quality management benchmark, to ensure that public spaces are maintained to the highest professional levels; seeking to keep all amenity areas safe and healthy for all to use. Peter Corbett, Executive Officer of the Amenity Forum explains; “Imagine going to your local park, with your children or grand-children. You want to know that those closest to you are safe at all times. This extends from park security, through to the grass, trees and the play areas that we enjoy. By visiting your local park and seeing the Amenity Standard logo on the entrance sign; you would know that the park is being maintained to the highest quality and safety standards within the UK”.
Peter continues to explain; “all amenity organisations that work within this standard belong to a recognised quality assurance scheme. The performance of the organisation is audited against the standard to ensure that operations and management plans are of the required quality and meet the expectations and latest standards of the industry.”
The Amenity Standard is overseen by the Amenity Forum, who have established processes and procedures to audit the various assurance schemes across the sector, to ensure they meet the level of professionalism required. Locations and organisations will only be able to claim adherence to the Standard if they can demonstrate consistent compliance to its requirements by application of recognised assurance schemes.
Why is the Amenity Standard important?
There are already assurance schemes in segments of the amenity industry. However, in order to give reassurance, and help build trust and understanding, the amenity industry recognised that an overarching standard needed to be implemented. Peter explained that “the standard is very similar to The Red Tractor scheme from the UK food and agriculture industry. When you purchase food from a supermarket or independent store and see the Red Tractor logo, you have reassurance that the food you are purchasing is to a high UK standard. The Amenity Standard offers the same reassurance to those using our public and sports areas”.
The standard will cover any amenity spaces that are looked after by both private companies and professionals employed by local councils or similar authorities. The amenity industry is dedicated to seeking to keep public areas safe, it’s vital that sustainable and effective practices are undertaken. A prime example is weed management; weed control in local parks allows our children to play safely in local parks and park runs to take place all year round. This is one thing that we all take for granted as we do for sports surfaces and recreational areas used for sporting activities. The unsung heroes that keep our streets, pavements, railway lines, sports pitches and indeed all our public spaces clean and tidy need recognition and likewise the public need assurance that they are professionally trained and certificated. When we hear on the news about chemicals, we do not think how, where and why these are used, and the impact they have one our daily lives, and that all such products undertake a rigorous authorisation process to ensure they are safe to use. The Amenity Standard, will give this reassurance, and help deliver a more sustainable future.
What does the Amenity Standard logo stand for?
Those amenity organisations that promote the logo show that they have a “licence to practice” and you can have confidence that work undertaken is to best practice standards and fully meet the legal requirements. This is vitally important, especially if you are having amenity work carried out in your home. For example, when a professional gardener helps maintain your grass or eliminate Japanese Knotweed. Ensuring they have the logo, allows you to have confidence that your property is being maintained using the highest standard methods.
How do I benefit from the Amenity standard?
As a user of amenity spaces, the Amenity Standard gives you a clear assurance that all those involved in creating and maintaining safe, healthy sports grounds and other amenity spaces, operate at the highest professional standards; and whether chemical or non-chemical methods are deployed, these operations are undertaken by competent, trained personnel following well designed and managed plans.
What are Amenity Spaces?
Amenity spaces range from your local parks, streets and paths, through to your local golf course and maintenance of the train tracks and local reservoirs. The importance of amenity spaces in all our everyday activities can not be underestimated and shows just how important the organisations that manage amenity spaces are, helping to provide safe, healthy amenity spaces and sports surfaces.
What do the Amenity approved workers do?
Amenity approved workers carry out a wide range of roles. Within the approved areas, there are grounds staff who look after local golf courses, and major football stadiums through to your professional turf care companies, who visit private homes, keeping your lawn in top condition. That is not to mention the park rangers, private organisations who keep the weeds from growing over the railway tracks and highways so we can all commute to work every day and many more. The list is so broad. It is vital that we are all assured that they operate professionally and use UK approved methods. That is why the Amenity Standard has been launched.
Why are organisations in support of the Amenity Standard?
Tom Arnold, Vice Chair of the UK Lawn Care Association (UKLCA)
" We became involved in the Amenity Standard as part of a programme of continuous professional development in the lawn care sector. Our main use of plant protection products is in the area of selective weed control within lawns and this is a critical tool in improving people's lawns that is impossible to achieve effectively by other methods. Our members are already qualified to apply products via the Government's recognised qualifications and the Amenity Standard offers us a UK recognised way of showing that our members engage with a recognised assurance scheme ( in our case Lawn Assured) that demonstrates their professionalism and that they are upholding the high standards we expect of them. The UKLCA is pleased and proud to promote the Amenity Standard.’’
Steve Hodgson, CEO of the Property Care Association
‘’ The public is right to be cautious about the use of plant protection products and need assurance that they are being applied by trained, qualified and highly skilled individuals who will utilize them in a measured and targeted way. As a responsible Trade Association, we share this view. The Amenity Standard empowers professionals and consumers to recognise and choose organisations that operate far beyond basic legal requirements. In so doing we make visible those who have demonstrated their operational track record and a willingness and to work safely, sustainably and responsibly. Property Care Association and its members have welcomed the creation of the sector wide Amenity Standard. Our members are proud to be amongst the first to adopt the Standard and display this independently assessed accreditation. We hope that it soon becomes the Standard that all those who control plants and pests in our open spaces will be forced have to measure up to’’
Duncan Jones, Director at Hortech
’Hortech where the first company to gain the Amenity Standard and we are very proud of that. For me it is vitally important that Hortech can demonstrate to clients and the general public that we are working to the highest possible standards. When it comes to undertaking vegetation management, whether by cultural means or using herbicides there is no room for error or complacency. The Amenity Standard ensures that we maintain those high standards year on year. It is my hope that all procurement teams across the UK set the Amenity Standard as a must have for tender pre-qualification’’
Ian Graham, MD of Complete Weed Control
‘’ Complete Weed Control for decades has aimed to deliver the highest of standards within our service provision, key in that endeavour is the support of the organisations that exist to improve the industry as a whole such as the Amenity Forum. The Amenity Standard is without question the single most important initiative. The Amenity weed control industry has never been under greater scrutiny than currently. Spraying operations that take place in public places are naturally and quite properly questioned. Being able to demonstrate that operators conform to a recognised and well-structured Standard is extremely important. The sooner that organisations are compelled to meet the Amenity Standard the better.