Amenity Forum making plans
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

Last week I was fortunate to attend the first of a series of Amenity Forum Updating Events scheduled for 2020. Aptly named ‘Setting the Standard’ the day was held at Harper Adams University, Shropshire.

These seminars are aimed at reinforcing the work of the Amenity Forum and its partners and promoting the newly launched Amenity Standard.


The seminar attracted a number of amenity professionals, companies and organisations including Lantra, BASIS, Agrovista , Hortech, Harper Adams University and other training providers.


As usual John Moverley, Chairman of the Amenity Forum, gave a passionate introduction to the day and introduced the guest speakers.


First up was Tracey Ware from the HSE who gave an update on the government’s National Action Plan policy, regarding the affect that Brexit may have on any specific time scales for the review of the Action Plan. She also stressed that it is important to continue best practice and to work with the European Directives to ensure we are compliant in the procurement and use of pesticides.


Tracey went on to explain that we continue making sure we are aware of the essential goals and risks required when using plant protective and pesticide products in terms of taking


Reasonable precautions:

  • If using, causing or permitting use, and/or handling and storage. Demonstrate due diligence. Use available guidance/ minimise use


Protecting water:

  • Significant, high-profile issue and tough standards. Awareness of risk importance


Integrated Pest Management:

  • Policy priority, use four key principles (suppress, monitor, intervention and record outcomes).

Finally, Tracey said, that it is likely that the new Action Plan will embrace more stringent policies on the use of pesticides and where possible there’s likely to be more focus on prosecuting perpetrators of poor / bad practice.

John Moverley then took the opportunity to update everybody on what lies ahead for the Amenity Forum and their new Amenity Standard.

At the 2019 Amenity Forum conference and exhibition, the new Amenity Standard was introduced, prior to its full formal launch in 2020. This Standard is akin to the Red Tractor in food and agriculture. Those operating to the Standard and displaying its logo will demonstrate their adherence to recognised assured standards in all tasks undertaken.

There is now much greater public and political interest related to weed, pest and disease management, especially linked to chemical use. The reasons why chemicals need to be used, as part of a fully integrated approach, in seeking to provide safe, healthy amenity spaces and sports surfaces, is not always clear to the public and stakeholders.



The wider public users of amenity spaces need to have clear assurances that all those involved in creating and maintaining safe, healthy sports grounds and other amenity spaces, operate at the highest professional standards; and whether using chemical or non-chemical methods, such operations are undertaken by competent, trained personnel following well designed and managed plans.

The introduction of the Standard has already generated widespread support including from the national governments of the UK. It will be formally launched in Scotland by a senior government minister at a conference in early February and a similar event is planned for Wales with on-going discussions in England and Northern Ireland on how best to promote and support.

Speaking about the Standard, John Moverley said, “We feel this to be exactly the right time to introduce this Standard which we hope will be sought and demanded from all who operate in amenity management. It will give assurance that work undertaken is of the highest professional standards by those committed to best practice in every aspect of operations. Those who work in amenity management undertake important and essential operations seeking to create safe and healthy amenity and sports spaces fit for purpose. Introduction of the Standard is we believe a major step and demonstrates once again the high levels of professionalism to be found in our sector.”

Steve Hodgson, CEO of the Property Care Association who was also in attendance , added, “This initiative from The Amenity Forum has been set up by the industry for the responsible use of chemicals. Endorsed by regulatory trade bodies and completely voluntary, we are delighted to be one of the first foundation partners to join. PCA members can also use the new Amenity Standard logo to demonstrate their adherence to recognised assured standards in the use of chemicals.”

The Amenity Standard is a bespoke quality management standard that has been developed, as a partnership, by all sides of the amenity sector. Those operating to the Standard will be committed to an integrated approach to amenity management and to the highest professional standards. They will be members of an approved assurance scheme recognised by the Standard. The cost of operating the Standard is covered by fees from providers of these recognised assurance schemes and there will be no extra cost to individual organisations.



The Amenity Standard is designed to:

  • Provide an industry benchmark
  • Provide a basis for continuous improvement
  • Focus on quality as an objective
  • Provide assurances about the quality of the approved organisation and maintenance of the amenity space
  • Ensure that quality assurance scheme operators recognised under this Standard use auditors with technical knowledge and experience of the sector concerned
  • Promote confidence in organisations operating and providing resources in the amenity sector by provision of a robust and transparent standard

The Amenity Standard will be operated by the Amenity Forum who will maintain, review and regularly update matters as required. They will audit each scheme operator to quality assure that they are operating to agreed standards. In turn, the scheme operators audit their members and approved organisations to assure that they are meeting the requirements of the Amenity Standard. At its launch, three Assurance Schemes are to be recognised by the Standard – the Property Care Association Scheme for Invasive Weed Management and two schemes offered by BASIS Registration, Lawn Assured and Amenity Assured. The aim is for more schemes to be recognised as the Standard develops so that all sectors of amenity are covered.


The need to move quickly on this is recognised by the sector. Clearly embedding the Amenity Standard will need time; it is not a quick fix. Its introduction will need to be accompanied by a communication strategy both externally and internally. However, if this step is not taken, the great progress made to date in increasing the recognition of the professionalism within the amenity sector may be threatened. It will not always be easy, but it is the right step, at the right time.



The next speaker was Alan Abel from Complete Weed Control who gave an insight into a number of alternative weed control methods , that included hot foam, sweeping techniques and electricity systems now coming into the market. Alan compared the cost of using these against the traditional costs of chemical applications through hand-held and mechanical sprayers.

Most, if not all, these new innovative systems generally cost a whole lot more in terms of time, resources and money than traditional spraying methods. Alan spoke of a recent APSE survey that revealed that 33 UK local authorities had reviewed their weed control policies and looked into alternative methods but took the decision to remain controlling weeds using traditional spraying methods, employing Glysophate products, mainly driven by cost and effectiveness.


There followed a facilitated participated session where the delegates were spit into groups to come up with ways the Amenity Forum could improve its method of communicating with customers, stakeholders, users and members of the public.


The delegates came up with several answers that ranged from more positive PR and the promotion of the importance of weed control, to changing the terminology of words used in the industry, perhaps using the phrase ‘plant protection products’ rather than the word pesticides.

Our final speaker was Jonathan Spibey from TWR Training Ltd, an experienced instructor with a demonstrated history of working in the professional training and coaching industry. Skilled in career development, coaching, instructional design, training delivery, and employee training, TWR has been providing agricultural, horticultural, amenity and forestry courses for nearly twenty years.


Jonathan spoke about the value of essential professional qualifications and training certificates that validate knowledge and expertise in relevant work practices, namely mechanical spraying courses based round accredited LANTRA and NPTC land based training courses, enabling you to meet HSE regulations and safe working practices.


It was then left to John Moverley to thank all the delegates for attending and finally mention a new initiative that may help the wider public embrace our sportsturf and amenity industry, bringing us together to celebrate what our industry brings to the table in the management of public open spaces, universities, schools, and sports facilities across the whole of the UK.

As you know the Amenity Forum always seeks to promote the importance of the amenity sector and certainly all that is involved in amenity management. We always stress that what happens in amenity impacts upon every UK citizen every day. Those conducting amenity operations are always seeking to create safe, healthy amenity and sports surfaces fit for purpose.



In 2020, we have the idea of a special event to celebrate all that happens in amenity management. On those days we would encourage all organisations across this diverse and important sector to undertake charitable activities, raising money for good causes locally or nationally, all under the umbrella of this day of celebration.

Dates have been pencilled in for this celebration week of 6th-11th July. This could be an event that I also believe will be good for us all who work in this industry, enabling us to tell the wider public the benefits that we bring in the management of these fantastic public assets.

The Amenity Forum will be hosting eleven more of these seminars across the UK. Please take the opportunity to attend one and discover news about their annual conference, which is being held in Kettering in November by contacting the Amenity Forum at admin@amenityforum.net

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