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I was surprised to see that Ground Control is now the contractor and has taken over the maintenance of Croydon Cemetery since my visit 2 years ago. I say surprised but I mean delighted as the quality of the maintenance has improved and a number of new ideas/improvements have been delivered. I met your onsite supervisor who is clearly enthusiastic about the site and clearly a good advert for Ground Control.

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World Wildlife Day: Gardening for Wildlife

Traditionally, a well-landscaped garden is associated with an intensively maintained, lush-green turf, weeded beds and ornamental plants selected for their appearance rather than their contribution to biodiversity.  Most often, the maintenance of a similar landscape involves large quantities of water for irrigation, the use of peat-rich compost, fertilisers and pesticides. However, we are now living in times where anthropogenic pressure on the environment has reached an unprecedented scale and where habitat fragmentation and loss, driven by pollution and unsustainable land use, are taking a huge toll on our ecosystems. Whilst this trend can only be curbed by the introduction of robust environmental laws and by the true integration of the “natural capital” concept in our policy framework, a responsible gardener can play a small, yet valuable part in supporting wildlife and enhancing biodiversity.  Indeed, a garden can (and should) be designed with a view of attracting and supporting life while minimising its energy requirements.

Ground Control Ecologist, Martino Ginepro, gives insight into simple steps that can be taken to achieve this:

  • Firstly, understand the chemistry and hydrology of the soil and identify plants that are suitable for it; try and avoid transforming what’s there and work with it instead.
  • Design it – think about what you want to achieve; to the extent that it’s possible, avoid doing-undoing things as this will impact on the length of time required to reach maturity.
  • Consider retaining mature plants that you inherit within your garden; don’t rip everything out straight away, take your time and consider the benefits that established vegetation can provide.
  • Select native plant species that can provide both food and shelter
  • Designate an area for wildflowers, if the space allows it, to attract pollinators; as an example, front lawns are rarely used for recreation and could be destined to this purpose instead
  • Relax the grass cutting regime, allowing flowers to bloom; a mono-species, green turf is of little use to most species and takes a lot of energy to maintain. Also, a lawn that is not kept too short will be more resilient during hot spells and won’t require as much watering
  • Use raised beds to create sensory gardens, planting nectar-rich native species that will scent your garden, support a wide range of pollinators and provide herbs for cooking
  • Install habitat boxes – birds and bug boxes can be easily accommodated in most gardens and, if collocated in the right spot, will likely be used; bat boxes can be installed too, if the site allows it
  • Plant trees for shade, habitat and all the well-known associated ecosystem services
  • Pull out weeds, don’t spray them –weeding can be a therapeutic exercise. Also, reconsider what defines a weed and if it actually needs pulling or if it can be kept in the ground and allowed to thrive.
  • Install water buts to collect rain water from gutters (i.e. shed); these fill in surprisingly quickly and can provide enough water to support the least draught-tolerant plants during hot spells.
  • If space allows it, make your own compost; by selecting highly biodegradable organic waste such as vegetable and fruit skins and cut grass, good quality topsoil will be readily available within a year or two.
  • If you want to go the extra mile, you can consider creating a pond, although these can require a lot of work so commit only once you are fully aware of the task ahead.

A garden that is alive is a fulfilling experience; it can inspire, teach, and lead to considerable satisfaction; and above all, it’s an act of good as it will deliver a service to other species inhabiting our Earth at times where less and less habitat is available for them to thrive.


Goodyear Neighbourhood Park certified in Considerate Constructors Scheme

Ground Control’s construction works at Goodyear Neighbourhood Park certified as ‘very good’ in Considerate Constructors Scheme, confirming committment to the scheme’s overriding aim to improve the image of construction.

To establish compliance, and recognise performance beyond compliance, Scheme Monitors visit offices, depots and individual projects or work areas, to score against each of the five Code headings – appearance, community, environment, safety and workforce.

Ground Control’s works at Goodyear Park include the construction of a new park on the old Goodyear industrial complex located on the outskirts of the city of Wolverhampton. The project consists of landscaped areas, a football pitch and cricket pitch as well as a MUGA, play areas and associated paths and footpaths. The project also contains a large balancing pond and is adjacent to a large number of newly constructed residential properties as well as a number of existing residential dwellings.

At a recent scheme audit, Goodyear Park received scores of 6 and 7 in all 5 sections, marking it as good/very good project and complying very well with all requirements.

Contract Manager for the site, Andy Staley, commented: “The site team and I were very pleased that the project was so well received by this industry scheme. Our result is due to the hard work and great efforts of Steve Hiatt, Site Supervisor, and our operational teams on site.”

For more information about the Considerate Constructors Scheme, visit:


Ground Control prepare for new maintenance season

With the new maintenance season almost upon us, Ground Control managers kick things off with the annual Field Team 1-2-1s; travelling the country to meet with our delivery teams across all regions spanning the UK.

At Ground Control, it is always our aim to improve our levels of engagement with all stakeholders of our business, both internal and external. The two most fundamentally important parties to our organisation, at the tip of the arrow head, are our clients and our service delivery teams. Without them we would not have the means to deliver our wealth of award winning services nor have the broad spectrum of customers who contract us to maintain their sites. Therefore it is crucial that these parties are fully engaged at every opportunity so as to be aware of the status of our business, what our strategy involves and how we are planning to achieve it.

The 1-2-1s consist of a brief business update and review of the past year, sharing our hopes and expectations for a great 2018 season, coupled very closely with what our teams should expect from us in terms of support. Managers also give refreshers on matters such as H&S, the importance of near miss reporting and our Field Team audit process. The second and perhaps most important part of each meeting, is discussions about the individual team’s plans for this season and potential changes to their site allocations and annual values.

Regional Operations Manager, Marc Wilkinson commented; “It has been my pleasure over the past 2.5 weeks to tour my region, accompanied by my team of 14 Contract Managers to spend some valuable time with their individual Field Teams. This has given me a great opportunity to forge relationships with teams I have not met previously, welcome new field teams to Ground Control and to renew some more established relationships with field teams that I have known and worked alongside for some time now. All in all, I met 117 teams from London, across into the Thames Valley, over to East Anglia and up to South Yorkshire. Each interaction was very different but very valuable all the same for varying reasons according to the team’s length of service with and experience of working alongside Ground Control. The feedback, has been mainly very positive, with some constructive feedback which we are busy collating to share across the relevant business streams on areas we can improve.

I am very proud to say that we have a great team of guys out on the ground, all very focused on delivering outstanding customer service and a high quality of grounds maintenance across our client’s portfolios of sites this year.”

Operation Director, Graham Bird, added; “It is invaluable to meet with our teams at the start of each season and it is a pleasure to see how much dedication and expertise lies amongst our team. We are continually looking to improve our offering to clients, so it is great to spend that time with the field teams to understand any issues where we could improve, how we can help them and for the teams to understand where the business is going. Here’s to another great season!”


Ground Control wins big at inaugural Pro Landscaper Business Awards

Industry acknowledgement shines a light on the company’s continued growth and excellence in the sector

Ground Control, the UK’s fastest growing external landscape solutions provider, has won the award for Commercial Landscaping Company at the first ever Pro Landscaper Business Awards.

Nominated for both Pro Landscaper’s Design and Build and Commercial Landscaping Company awards, the highly anticipated award from the landmark industry title highlights Ground Control’s role as a market leader and its continued growth throughout the landscape sector.

Marcus Watson, Ground Control’s Managing Director, said: “We are thrilled to be the recipients of this award, from such a prestigious publication for our industry. To be recognised in this way as a leading commercial landscaping company is truly an honour, showcasing the tremendous hard work of our team and the high quality we deliver to our customers every day.”

The Pro Landscaper Business Awards were created to bring together businesses across all sectors and to recognise companies that are consistently performing well, building, maintaining and designing great gardens, parks and open spaces: companies that are developing the staff of the future and challenging the norm, while constantly delivering outstanding performance and raising the standard of UK landscaping.

“Pro Landscaper is committed to helping raise the overall professionalism of the landscape sector. We are also committed to rewarding and sharing good industry practice, and the new Pro Landscaper Business Awards help highlight the fantastic companies that operate within the sector.” said Jim Wilkinson, Managing Director, Pro Landscaper.

The Pro Landscaper Awards are supported by leading industry magazines Pro Landscaper and FutureArch, and the industry’s number one event, FutureScape, and were held on Friday, 9th February, 2018 at The East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf.

For more information about the awards, visit

To find out more about Ground Control call 0800 334 5606 or email


Ground Control leaders seek to further improve customer experience with new initiative

For ‘One Day in 2017’, Ground Control’s entire Senior Leadership Team stepped away from their day jobs to spend time out with a colleague at another level across the business.

Swapping their desks for work boots and hi-vis, the senior team were invited to step into the shoes of the men and women who deliver for our customers, to experience a day from their perspective. From maintenance, planting and landscaping, to vegetation works on the railway, visiting sites with contracts managers, and completing essential administrative work in the office, a total of 45 senior leaders completed ‘One Day in 2017’.

Ground Control pride themselves on delivering unrivalled customer service alongside fantastic operational delivery; achieving great results due to the hard work and dedication of their people. Taking the time out to experience first-hand how teams go about delighting customers has become a key driver for Ground Control’s senior team, enabling the team across all divisions to gain immensely valuable insights into the challenges, frustrations and delights that colleagues experience on site.

By example, Neil Walby, Senior Construction Manager spent time working on the tools at a recent construction project at Elephant Park in South London.

“GC was really up against it to get this project complete for the client’s opening date the following week.  The project was very complex with a wide variety of elements to install with around 40 men on site and just one small access route in/out for materials and waste.  It was pretty chaotic to say the least but we had some very good committed teams on site who were happy to stay late and work weekends to get the project done.

I thoroughly enjoyed mucking in together with our teams and even when the rain came down heavy there was still a good team spirit that kept everyone going and made the challenging completion of works possible in the end.”

Graham Bird, Operations Director, joined a team at Sainsbury’s site in Epsom, undertaking a day of maintenance work to keep the site up to its exceptional standard. Andrew Hollyer, Sales & Marketing Director, spent a day working across 4 Thames Water sites, both vast and challenging; requiring a combination of ride-on and pedestrian mowers.

“It was great to get insight into how our teams actually deliver the work on various sites and the challenges they face day-to-day, all of which can help us improve processes and continue to deliver a great service.”

HR Manager Niki Dole joined Contract Manager James Olphin, out on the road visiting some of the many sites we maintain. “Spending time out with James gave me a lot of ideas about how we can improve our field team inductions, which was great. Also, from a HR point of view, it got me thinking about wellbeing and how we can enable daily activity for those who spend hours on the road.”

Senior Manager for Rail, Stephen Gates spent his day building bug hotels on the HS2 contract to encourage biodiversity in the area, whilst Regional Contracts Manager Ross Brownlie, spent time at one of our high security HMRC sites.

Managing Director, Marcus Watson commented; “Our business is only as good as our people and the more knowledge and experience our leaders can draw from across the business at all levels, the better. We are continually growing as a company, and I am delighted that our senior leaders are keeping in touch with what is important; the family culture upon which we are built, and the values that helped us get to where we are today.”


Ground Control improve H&S auditing

Throughout 2017 there has been a continued push to ensure our teams are health and safety compliant with all aspects of work carried out for our clients. A major part of this is the Field Team Audits that are undertaken by our Contract Managers. In light of this, our audit sheet has been trimmed down and importance placed on behavioural safety. The stringent pass score along with weighted scoring ensures a concentrated focus on getting it right first time.

With the overall theme for 2017 being “Changing Hearts and Minds” towards health and safety, Roger Barron Health and Safety Manager for grounds maintenance, has been carrying out audit training with the Managers in each region following on from the building blocks training carried out earlier in the year.

Roger explained; “Over the past year we have been getting a wealth of audit information coming through from the Managers. Our Management Information Analyst, Javier, produces a weekly report to myself and HSQE Administrator, Claire, which allows us to interrogate and produce meaningful data available to the managers on a monthly basis”.

The audit training for Managers is a culmination of our enhanced reporting systems and witnessed audit inspections undertaken by myself and Operations Director, Graham Bird. This in turn will build a robust platform for briefings at the roadshows and ongoing into 2018.

With 50 percent of the audit training completed, results are already showing a more objective approach by our Managers compared to that at the witnessed inspections undertaken. We must remember that our clients are observing us and undertaking their own audits on a regular basis. We must ensure that we are fully compliant at all times.”


Environmental Awareness Day

Friday 15th September saw Ground Control’s second annual Environmental Awareness Day, held at Studley Wood Golf Club. We invited a select number of clients to join us for an insightful day covering a range of different topic areas to support with the daily maintenance of their estates.

Topics included sustainability, biodiversity, invasive species, tree management and pest control, with our very own industry experts on hand to deliver informative talks and practical demonstrations throughout the day, including ‘live’ Picus testing and building a bug hotel.

Speakers included Senior Ecologist Gavin Mullan, National Training Manager (and invasive weeds expert) Neil Huck, Arboricultural Consultant Alan Richardson, Principal of Design Matt Nokes, and Sales & Marketing Director Andrew Hollyer. Key Account Managers Alison Rogers and Suki Gohel did an outstanding job making arrangements leading up to the event, working to the theme of “Caring for our Environment” and “managing your environment for your benefit”.

Suki commented on the day; “This was a client-focussed event, designed to demonstrate the ‘beyond compliance’ services we can provide. We wanted to show that at GC we blend market-leading expertise with innovative services to deliver to a high standard – and that, from conception to delivery, the customer experience is at the heart of what we do. What we also wanted to communicate was that there are things we do as a company to mitigate our environmental impact and that implementing sustainability initiatives from increased awareness can start small and can be rolled in to any growing business.”

Andrew Hollyer added; “Off the back of a very successful event last year, there was always a worry that this event wouldn’t live up to the same standards. How wrong could we have been! We had a fantastic turn out with a number of very high profile clients in attendance, including Network Rail, Pets at Home, Electricity North West, Four Seasons Healthcare, Colas Rail and Salisbury FM. Feedback from the day was exceptional. Last year’s event allowed us to win new business, including Electricity North West, as well as additional training to Network Rail. This year we have already had additional works orders and a pricing request for Pest Control across the estate from Four Seasons Healthcare, as well as Electricity North West for forest mulching which could turn out to be a significant sum of money. I would like to personally thank all parties involved who helped make this a great and a very successful day. Special thanks to Suki, Alison, Vanessa, Neil, Matt, Gavin and Alan. Here is to an even bigger and better 2018 event!”


Winter raffle in aid of Mind

Each year, the entire Ground Control team comes together for our annual Winter Conference, to discuss company-wide and divisional issues, celebrate successes, and discuss plans for the future.

At this year’s conference, we held a raffle where we were delighted to raise £2009 for our chosen charity, Mind.

1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year. Despite this it is estimated only 25% of people suffering with mental health problems receive support each year, leaving hundreds of thousands struggling.

Mind is a charity working to change all that by providing advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem, while also campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. Mental health problems don’t disappear over Christmas. For many people, they get worse. Help us make sure nobody has to cope alone.


Christmas Jumper Day

Ground Control get in the festive spirit, raising £293.40 for Save the Children!

Save the Children is a worldwide charity who run world-class programmes to save children’s lives and challenge world leaders to keep to their promises to give children a brighter future.


Uppingham in Bloom Awarded Gold in Britain in Bloom Awards

Uppingham in BloomUppingham in Bloom awarded GOLD in Small Town category at RHS Britain in Bloom Awards!

On behalf of client, Rutland County Council, Ground Control teams came together to spruce up the area ahead of Britain in Bloom judging. Achieving Gold, Uppingham in Bloom trumped 78 other Britain in Bloom finalists, to be crowned as the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful places in the East Midlands.

Uppingham in Bloom was chosen for the group’s commitment to environmental responsibility, high levels of community participation and outstanding gardening achievements.

Pam Dalby, Chair of Uppingham in Bloom commented; “We are absolutely thrilled with the result, as we were not expecting to get anywhere near a win. This is a monumental award for Uppingham and for Rutland and we are proud to represent our region at a national level. We thank you and the teams for the support and cooperation this year.”


Ground Control join green-fingered residents to improve gardens

Sovereign Housing Association. Pembridge House, Fordingbridge. Pembridge Garden estate improvements. Sovereign staff and Ground Control staff clear the over grown flower beds. (L-R): Amanda Devine-Bowden (Sovereign), Marianna Pentek (Ground Control), Abi Travers (Sovereign) and Jim Edwards from Ground Control.Ground Control has been supporting client, Sovereign Housing, and residents at Pembridge House to set up a small gardening club to improve their communal garden.

Operations Manager, Jim Edwards and Contract Manager, Marianna Pentek spent a day on site with residents clearing and pruning overgrown bushes, clearing pathways and giving the grass its winter cut.

Abigail Travers, Sovereign’s Housing Services Manager (Support Housing) said: “This day was a great success, not only in returning the grounds to their former glory, but also in bringing residents together with a common interest in gardening. Our Independent Living Service aims to help residents who may otherwise be socially isolated by helping to facilitate opportunities to engage with them in a positive way to help improve their quality of life.”

Jim Edwards said: “When we started the Hampshire contract in March this year Pembridge House was one of the first schemes I visited and we could see years of neglect in what is a very nice garden.

“Working with Amanda Devine-Bowden from Sovereign we put together a works party to get stuck in. Enjoying the sunny weather and working with great people the day went quickly. The area is looking so much better, the residents genuinely appreciated the hard work and end result.”


Ground Control Complete Construction at Maritime Streets

Maritime StreetsAnd that’s a wrap! Landscape Construction works at Maritime Streets, Barrow, are complete! Construction Manager, Phil Townsend gives us his take on the works of what has turned out to be a truly outstanding project…

Maritime Streets Situated on Barrow Island is a 100 year old collection of old Tenement flats; reminiscent of those that populated Glasgow. Built for Railway workers, this facility is now split between the permanent residents of the Island and the transitional population of Engineers and Contractors (us included) who work for companies such as BAE Systems – currently engaged in the UK’s submarine building programme – and Dong Energy – undertaking the UK’s largest off-shore Windfarm project. The Street names include Sloop St, Steamer St, Schooner St and Barque St, all names of types of types of vessels.

Maritime Streets was an estate in desperate need of improvement and a population feeling as if the world had forgotten them! Of course it hadn’t, which, after several years of planning and preparation, was about to show itself in the grandest of manners.

To create something that genuinely breaks the mould takes vision, planning, details and a whole lot of very hard work, including a significant amount of disruption. From the moment we arrived, roads were closed, parking spaces removed, footpaths excavated and of course through all of this, there was mud, albeit we try as much as possible to mitigate that. Throughout, there have been very few mumblings, with the over-riding feeling from those in and around the areas, that here, at last, someone was trying to improve their lot.

Arriving 3rd January, we knew the job was going to last at least 7 months. Of course, as a result of technical issues and challenges, the scheme ran longer than anticipated, but always in agreement and always managed. Fences, Canopies and Totems, were 3 of the most challenging items involved, all requiring expert input from specialist suppliers who sometimes proved difficult, but wow, was it all worth it!

Planning, finding problems, trying solutions, re-planning and executing, all lead on site by our part-time, sometime retired, Engineer – Steve Anderton, and our combination of come and go Site Managers, including our very own ‘Dan the Scan’ Ashman, who kindly helped out, not once, but twice, in our hour of need! And yet, somehow, it all came together and from around 6 months into the scheme, it began to take shape and the imaginations of the Landscape Architects – notably Noel Farrer (principal), Bruno Amador (main designer of the scheme) , Xoan Perez (designer of the Soft Landscaping scheme) and, latterly, Jeremy Lord (the deliverer), came to life.

First the 7 Totems went in. These large, specialist units arrived in 2 loads and were lifted into position using 2 hiab units. These were designed to be lit up from the base, meaning that the quality of the finish, the accuracy of the placement and the visibility of the lettering, all had to be just so. Of course they also have to be built to stand the test of time, and a last minute re-think of the engineering demands called for a series of pins to be used to absorb the potential extra impact that was required.

Another significant challenge was the Canopies. Again, the design was challenged – not in its presentation, but in its Engineering. The method of fixing had to be altered as a solution. Firstly the poles then the Canopy structures were lifted into position, all onto pre-cast reinforced bases. These structures are perhaps the most eye-catching of all the items used on site. With lights positioned in the paving beneath, and with benches and seats to enjoy the location, together with Table Tennis and Chess Tables; this will hopefully become the focal point of the whole scheme, for a long time after we have ended our input.

Of course with any scheme like this, the planting scheme is always one of the finishing touches and, on this particular project, provides the contrast against which the large steel and concrete features can best show themselves. Resin Bonded Gravel throughout and a bespoke lighting scheme really finish the project off.

Being where the scheme is – in a town at the end of what is locally referred to as ‘the longest cul-de-sac in England’ – may well mean that most reading this are unlikely ever to see this scheme in person. Even more unlikely is the idea that you will see it at night, but perhaps from the photos available you will be able to get a flavour for what the lighting scheme brings to the whole project – it is, as Freddie would say, a Kind of Magic.

But this isn’t where the story ends. The scheme was opened with a ‘Garden Party’ on a brisk October afternoon, inviting residents, young and old, to take a good look around. The feedback was wholly positive, commenting on how lovely it was to see the difference the scheme had made. The challenge now is to try and ensure that this becomes a legacy which is looked after and used correctly; that the planting is tendered and cared for (hopefully with long term involvement from Ground Control), and that any damage is corrected quickly. This scheme was brought to the residents in an effort to improve their lives and environments, that much is complete. We must now help them to try and ensure that the benefit it brings is lasting.

Ground Control complete Landscape Construction at Maritime Streets, Barrow.


Ground Control ‘Wear it Pink’ for Breast Cancer Now

Ground Control raised £560 for Breast Cancer Now; as part of their ‘Wear it Pink’ campaign which aims to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with one in eight women diagnosed with the condition in their lifetimes. But if symptoms are caught early enough treatments can be very effective. That’s why Breast Cancer Awareness Month is so important.

Since Breast Cancer Now’s first event in 2002, over £30 million has been raised for life-saving research. Research that’s working to discover how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively at every stage so we can stop the disease taking lives.

Wear it Pink 2017


Ground Control triumph at BALI National Landscape Awards, scooping Principal Award for Grounds Maintenance

Ground Control win Principal Award at BALI National Landscape Awards 2017On Friday 1st December at the 41st BALI National Landscape Awards, Ground Control received a coveted Principal Award for works at Lingley Mere Business Park, in the Grounds Maintenance Private category.

The BALI National Landscape Awards, in association with Horticulture Week and headline sponsor Green-tech, are held annually at London’s Grosvenor House on Park Lane and are the largest landscape Awards scheme in Europe. They recognise the excellence in landscape design, construction and maintenance, and in Affiliate customer service, achieved by Registered members of the British Association of Landscape Industries.

The Awards ceremony was hosted by popular BBC journalist and Breakfast business presenter Steph McGovern, who addressed the record-breaking audience of over 1000 BALI members and guests during the luncheon and joined Awards sponsors on stage to present the 29 Principal and Special Awards.

Ground Control has been undertaking grounds maintenance at large commercial estate, Lingley Mere Business Park, United Utilities’ headquarters, since 2015. Working across the 65-acre site, Ground Control’s dedicated team of three maintains grass areas, wild flowers areas and large ponds in addition to general maintenance duties, utilising battery powered equipment to meet specific client requirements and cut carbon emissions. Ground Control works closely with the client and facilities management company EMCOR to offer training opportunities, supporting the local community.

Steve Roberts who judged the site commented; “This business park near Warrington represents a good balance of ecologically friendly areas and areas where more formal grounds maintenance is required adjacent to buildings. Although large areas of water on the site mean that geese present issues for the maintenance team in terms of keeping areas clear of mess, the site is extremely well looked after and a very pleasant working environment for those located in the various offices on the park.”

Ground Control’s Managing Director, Marcus Watson, commented; “We’re delighted to have achieved a Principal Award at this year’s BALI National Landscape Awards! We are passionate about maintaining outstanding external spaces, and this award gives great recognition of the high quality we deliver to our customers each and every day. It is a real testament to the hard work and dedication of all our teams who work tirelessly to create, manage and maintain our outdoor spaces. Very well done to all.”

Also at the event Ground Control collected award plaques for winning sites; Tower of London, National Maritime Museum and Inverness Campus, which were announced earlier in the year.

BALI award-winning site; Lingley Mere Business Park, United Utilities


Introducing… the Levelizer

Ground Control’s mechanised arboriculture division continues to expand. Check out this new bit of kit… it’s making quite a stir on Facebook!

Levelizer - Available for HIRE. Ground Control.

The Levelizer is the first of its kind in the UK. This particular unit, with the help of its mulching and tree shear attachments, will help us to reduce lineside disruptions normally associated with RRV work and trackside possessions. In a more wider context, this machine will allow operators to work on a whole multitude of gradients in other sectors, waterways, highways and the like!

It is available for CPCS operated hire across the UK or to purchase.

Check out GC Arb on Facebook:


Ground Control team deployed to Dominica for specialist relief works with Disaster Arborist Response Team

Last month, one of Ground Control’s arborists Dave Uden has teamed up with DART (Disaster Arborist Response Team), a charity dedicated to delivering specialist disaster relief to countries in need.

Disaster Arborist Response Team

DART is a UK registered charity of 25 to 30 volunteers; established to help professionals from the UK Arboricultural Industry donate their skills, energy and experience to help clear fallen trees and debris following natural disasters around the world.

On 6th October, Dave and his team flew out to the Caribbean island of Dominica for 2 weeks to help clear-up the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Tasked by the Dominican Government’s Emergency Operations Centre, the team played a key role in clearing roads blocked by fallen trees to facilitate the delivery of aid to isolated communities.

A total of 7 volunteers were deployed to deliver disaster response works, in addition to providing training to locals in safe chainsaw use, aiming to create a more resilient community moving forward. The team donated all chainsaws and PPE to the new operators for their continued safety, with the hope that a larger number of people will be able to offer support and help keep access routes clear in times of need.

DART is funded purely by public donations and corporate sponsorship; Ground Control is delighted to be supporting.

DART - Dominica


Winter Maintenance is not just for Winter

Marcus Watson, Managing Director of Ground ControlWinter is just around the corner, and our teams are busy planning for the new season. Do you have your winter maintenance solutions sorted? If not, it’s time to think about it! Our Managing Director, Marcus Watson gives his views on why planning ahead is key…

Winter maintenance not only has a significant impact on companies’ real estates and infrastructure, it also affects staff, customers and the surrounding communities. In the UK we always get a cold snap – in some cases severe – at some stage in the season, so it makes sense to plan ahead. Waiting for the winter to come along not only is too late due to the impact already being felt, but a reactive posture makes it difficult for winter maintenance teams to respond quickly, with mismatched resources and the obvious potential problems of playing catch-up.

Allocation of resources for winter maintenance solutions also needs to be a priority. After all, it is not as straightforward as deploying salt or shifting snow. Instead, winter maintenance providers like Ground Control and LitterBoss need to plan ahead throughout the summer months to ensure everything is in place for a quick and smooth deployment process that has as minimal an impact as possible to a customer’s business. Tasks include:

  • Planning what sites require winter maintenance when, incorporating an estimate of the time each job will take, how much work is involved and what timeframe is best to complete the tasks;
  • Mapping out of the site(s), including the areas that require work, where such things as snow are to be moved to and what the main routes in and out of the site are;
  • Optimising the route to each location, therefore ensuring the teams know where they are going and what is the most cost-efficient route;
  • Resource planning per site, incorporating what products will be needed for each job and how much, whether any products such as salt can be deployed in advance, what equipment will need to be transported and how many personnel will be required for the job.

All of this planning can enable winter maintenance providers to deliver a streamlined, cost-effective service to customers. Utilising organisations such as Met Office and MetraWeather, providers of winter maintenance services can obtain good, high quality, high density weather reports, enabling forecasting of where winter maintenance will likely be required across the country. As a user of Met Office’s OpenSiteGold service, we receive the highest density winter gritting service available in the UK. Utilising Met Office’s high-resolution road forecasting model, we receive a forecast for every first half of a postcode.

Using this, in conjunction with our detailed planning process, provides proactive customers with the best possible service. However, if a customer, despite all of this, chooses the reactive only service, that customer will be in danger of losing out to those who have thought ahead. After all, winter maintenance providers will service sites that have an agreement in place first, simply due to the ability to be able to think ahead. Salt can be taken to locations close to customers’ sites ahead of time; conversations will have been completed around what will need clearing. In addition, a site recce can be completed, if required, to work out in advance what needs to happen and at what time the gritting should take place to cause the least disruption. For those with a reactive service, none of this can happen meaning these companies will be at risk of causing disruption to their own staff and customers, with the obvious potential knock on effect on the company’s finances.

In conclusion, my recommendation to any organisation is that they treat winter maintenance like any other business need; they plan ahead for it. The winter months are just around the corner, and if they are not planned for, the risks could be at best problematic, and at worst catastrophic if customers cannot access their premises for example. Don’t be reactive, be proactive to avoid a winter of discontent.

Ground Control winter services


Ground Control retain 5 stars in external RISQS audit!

Ground Control RISQSGround Control successfully pass annual Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS) audit, achieving the maximum 5 stars for another year.

Administered by Achilles on behalf of Network Rail the audit reviews contractors overall management systems and rail specific requirements.

The audit is split into a number of sections: Industry Minimum Requirements (IMR) – this looks at a variety of aspects from working hours and fatigue management through to plant, equipment and lifting equipment; the Sentinel Scheme – the management of rail qualified personnel; Railway Interface Planning (RIPS) – the Safe System of Work process, and Plant Operations Scheme (POS) – looking at how we manage On-Track Plant (Road Rail Vehicles).

The audit, led by Greg Buckley (HSQE Manager) with assistance from Karl Jones (H&S Manager) and Jonathan Coles (Rail Compliance Administrator) took place over 3 days and involved us demonstrating, through detailed evidence, how we manage work, our procedures, implementing these on the ground e.g. site planning, audit and inspection, drugs and alcohol screening, Sentinel sponsorship and fatigue management.

Senior Manager, James Hanna commented; “This is fantastic news. It’s a huge undertaking to get prepared for and endure these audits, and to retain our 5 star rating for another year is a testament to Greg and Karl’s hard work. Without it we simply wouldn’t be able to operate! Well done team!”


Ground Control to launch apprenticeship with Interserve and Sandwell Schools following project success

Ground Control and The Westminster School, Sandwell SchoolsEarlier this year, we were delighted to support our client Interserve and Sandwell Schools on a taster day, giving students with learning difficulties the chance to sample a day in the life of the horticulture profession. As part of this, the students at The Westminster School were invited to help transform an overgrown area of the school grounds into a beautiful sensory garden.

Roy Candlin, Supervisor for our contract at Sandwell Schools, and our field team on-site were on hand to supervise the project, teaching the students as they worked. Together, the team removed all unwanted shrubs and weeds to make space for new planting.

As part of Ground Control’s growing relationship with Sandwell Schools, Roy has been working closely with the students on a range of projects including a Gruffalo Woodland Walk, which will create a great new area for the schools and children to enjoy.

In the coming months, we hope to offer supported apprenticeships in partnership with Sandwell Schools and Interserve, to those individuals who wish to embark on a career within the horticulture industry. This will involve students spending a number of days a week with Roy out of the classroom, to gain invaluable experience and skills needed to progress into employment.

Gareth Williams, Regional Contracts Manager commented; “Through the hard work of Roy, his team, the teachers at the school and of course, the students, the internship project looks likely to succeed. Only a small percentage of students with learning difficulties manage to hold down employment after their education and it is projects and people like this that help increase this figure. Well done to all involved!”

Oliver Flowers, The Westminster School Head Teacher commented; “The hard work of everyone was astounding and it is remarkable what they have been able to achieve in one day. Thanks to all at Ground Control for making this happen. It just shows you what can be achieved by harnessing business partnerships.”

Ground Control to launch apprenticeship with Interserve and Sandwell Schools


Latest from HSE: Fatal injuries arising from accidents at work

In 2016/17, 137 workers were killed at work in Great Britain.

The main accidents for workers include being struck by a moving vehicle or object, falls from height, being trapped by something collapsing or overturning, coming into contact with moving machinery, and contact with electricity.

Whilst injury figures have improved over the last 30 years, there is still a lot to be done to raise awareness to prevent further injuries and deaths.

By taking the right steps to prevent workplace injuries before they happen, we can continue to maintain a safe working environment.

HSQE Manager for Utility Arb, Gary Summerfield, commented.

“Nobody should go to work and never come home. This figure of 137 only represents the number of individuals killed at work, it does not include the hundreds of children, spouses, family members and friends who will be forever changed by the sad loss of someone dear to them, just for being at work.  This is why the courts and authorities have increased both  fines and custodial sentences for individuals and businesses found to be in breach of health & safety legislation. It’s very important that as a whole business we all ensure that we and our colleagues are all actively involved in safety, health and welfare systems and we prioritising safety, health and welfare over any commercial pressures to get the job done urgently. As part of our annual appraisals we should all be very clear that we understand our individual roles in safety, health and wellbeing  and we are all trained and competent to undertake our assigned duties. Let’s all go home to our loved ones at the end of each working day and not add any more numbers to this sad statistic.

For HSQE Manager for Maintenance, Roger Barron, this year is about changing hearts and minds. Roger has been working with maintenance managers on the H&S ‘Building Blocks’ –  Commitment, Worker Engagement, Prioritisation of H&S, Compliance, Measurement and Organisational Learning. Roger has been running interactive sessions with managers across the country focussing on these points, which have led to managers taking up training on mind safety, investigation, engagement and auditing.

“It’s about always considering the root of the issues we may face on site and building on ways we can prevent them. By always engaging our teams, we can reinforce our message to stop poor practice from becoming a habit.

The causes of unsafe ways of working, accidents, incidents and ill health are not immediately obvious; be it human error (a genuine mistake) or a violation (deliberate rule breaking) – we want to make improvements and we can only do this when we know why people behave in certain ways. Together, we can take a step in the right direction.”

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