Keeping costs down
in the face of cutbacks

With funding cuts driving UK councils to sell parks, Reesink Turfcare revisits how park managers can keep green space maintenance standards high while making squeezed budgets go further.

Two issues ago, we looked for a solution to park funding cuts in light of the finding in The Heritage Lottery Fund's (HLF) 2016 ‘State of the UK Public Parks' report that 92 percent of park managers had cuts made to their revenue budget between 2013-16 and 95 percent of park managers anticipated more cuts to their revenue budget in the years following.

Unfortunately those surveyed were right on the money. In fact, now it seems the issue is becoming even more pronounced, with an alarming BBC report uncovering that more than half of northwesterly councils in the UK are facing the dire possibility of having to sell parks over the next three years.

Knowsley council is suffering the staggering loss of £100 million of funding.

One such council is the metropolitan borough of Merseyside, Knowsley, which recently announced plans to sell off 17 of its greens spaces to fund the remaining 144. This is an attempt to compensate for the staggering loss of £100 million of funding in recent years.

We can trace these funding cuts back to 2010, when the government embarked on a programme of austerity in response to the financial crisis of 2008. Since then cuts to public spending have been made wherever possible to reduce the national deficit, and neighbourhood services, specifically park maintenance, has been a particular victim of this.

Eight years on and the cuts are showing no sign of relenting and the future of our parks is looking more uncertain than ever before. So, what can be done?

In this current economic climate, groundsmen have a great responsibility to look after green spaces in the best, most cost-efficient way to ensure their survival. An expense that must be managed in a more considered way is the cost of machinery and, if chosen wisely, machinery can be one of the best investments a council can make.

With such an urgent need to spend their dwindling budgets smartly, councils may be worried about making the right choice for their groundscare equipment. However, when it comes to cost-effective equipment that guarantees results, Toro stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Why go Toro?

Some may be under the impression that Toro is less affordable, but more often than not this just isn't the case.

Toro was chosen as we felt, after going through a tender process trialling other brands, that they were the best value for money.

Keith Somers

Operational Services Manager (Hort), Bassetlaw District Council

For example, Bassetlaw District Council in North Nottinghamshire invested in two Toro LT3340 high performance reel mowers in a bid to maintain the district’s multitude of diverse grassy areas, including parks, cemeteries, closed church yards, housing estates and sports areas.

Operational Services Manager (Hort), Keith Somers, explains: "Toro was chosen as we felt, after going through a tender process trialling other brands, that they were the best value for money. The main benefits of the machines are that they are able to deal with both small and large areas of grass across all of the different spaces we look after."

One of Bassetlaw District Council's new LT3340 mowers about to be put into action in a local park.

With many councils struggling against increasingly restrictive budgets, competitive prices come as a welcome relief. Plus, owning Toro machinery brings longer term cost-savings, too.

For one, cost of ownership is very low as machines are durable and long-lasting. With proper regular maintenance, Toro machinery has been known to last for over 20 years in some cases. Add to that, their residual values are high, so should you ever decide to put your machine on the market you are likely to get a good price. Altogether, choosing Toro makes for a prudent investment that pays off long into the future.

Tailor-made machines

Reesink Turfcare's Toro grounds machinery range provides you with the tools you need to get the job done quickly, effectively and cost-efficiently. This is because the range's designs have been informed and shaped by feedback from on-the-ground turf professionals.

In fact, Toro recognises that the needs of UK groundsmen are very different to that of equivalent professionals in America. In response to this, Toro has developed specific models tailored to the needs of groundsmen in the UK and is forever innovating to make increasingly efficient machines that can cut more, for longer periods of time.

For councils, productive and versatile mowers are key to keeping green spaces maintained to a high standard when budgets are under pressure. The LT-F3000 flail mower is so popular among park managers because it can handle anything while keeping costs down. This rugged performer can chew through all types of grass – long, short, wet, dry – while maintaining an impressive finish. As it can cope with long, rough grass, councils can make real savings by increasing the length of time between cuts, making it the perfect choice for those working to tight budgets.

Another example of a Toro mower tailor-made to the UK groundscare market is the ProLine H800 direct collect rotary mower, a champion of productivity that enables groundsmen to go longer between stops. This comes down to many reasons, but the primary factors are the machine's 41ltr fuel tank, 810ltr grass clippings collector and the ability to change height of cut without stopping. The multi-tasking nature of this machine means you can invest in one that does it all, rather than many that don't quite cut it.

Unrivalled durability

It will come as no surprise that Toro has a reputation for longevity and durability. In the tough market of groundscare these are very desirable qualities, especially if you are looking to buy machinery outright. Renowned for its high residual value, Toro machines remain in excellent condition for many years with due care and maintenance. This is thanks to the fact that materials used are highly durable.

Take, for example, the Groundsmaster 3400-D out-front rotary mower. Constructed from high-strength seven gauge welded steel, 33 per-cent thicker and 75 percent stronger than ordinary ten gauge commercial steel, the GM3400-D is robust and tough.

Kingstown Works Limited has a fleet of seven, robust GM3400-D mowers to maintain the 2017 City of Culture, Hull.

Kingstown Works Limited recognised this and invested in seven GM3400-D mowers to be operated by its largest client Hull City Council. Garry Middleton, business unit leader at KWL Fleet, also commends the model for its "decent trim, clean finish and good turn rate around trees and other obstacles." 

He continues: "While purchase price is of course a major factor, we always consider the anticipated operational and maintenance costs and, given that Toro retains a good residual value, this also forms an important consideration as part of our overall costing."

Toro retains a good residual value, this also forms an important consideration as part of our overall costing.

Garry Middleton

Business Unit Leader, Hull City Council

What Garry astutely points out here, is that it's wise to think long-term when investing in that all-important machinery. What will it cost to operate? What will it cost to maintain and service? Will it retain a high residual value? When all of this is considered and weighed up, it's likely Toro will come out on top.

With all of these questions in mind, it is worth speaking to one of our advisors over the phone. To discover how Toro groundscare machinery can work within your budget and cutting requirements, contact Reesink Turfcare on 01480 226800.

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