At a time where many local councils are dealing with service cuts, Islington Councils' Tree Service has developed a model that has enabled it to make the required savings while increasing the size of its team and continuing to provide a high level service to its residents.
This has been achieved by setting up a trading arm, expanding the range of services that the Tree Services team provides, maximising compensation for trees that are lost to development and reinvesting that money into improving the urban forest.
Islington Council Tree Service manages a large stock of trees for a variety of clients both within and outside the borough. The number of sites it works across has grown in recent years.
The team’s goal in 2016 was to meet and surpass the targets set for council savings for the Tree Service by generating income and thereby reducing the need for cuts. The solution – setting a trading arm – would mean an expansion of the range of services the team offered, an increase in staff numbers and the development of relationships with key partners to deliver more efficient and effective services.
A business plan was created for the launch of the trading body – iCo Green – which received start-up investment from the council. A website was created and client officer recruited to reach and manage external clients. A new tree inspector was also recruited to increase the capacity of the team.
The development of skills and knowledge for new members of staff has been facilitated by the service’s more experienced officers.
External clients including other local authorities and private companies were secured. In addition a joint tender process for an innovative new tree work contract was led. An application to the Mayor's London Tree Programme 2016-17 secured £9,000 which helped to cover the expenses of resident requested tree planting.
In addition the Tree Service has developed the application of highway asset management principals to trees using the CAVAT tree tool. As a result of this work the team has managed to generate an excess of £200,000 via compensation for trees removed due to development. This money is re-invested in the urban forest.
As a result of theses developments the Tree Service has grown in size to 9 members of staff and income targets have been met