Making a town look its best
One of the great pleasures in life for Roger Finniss is to walk proudly along the broad High Street of his home town of Tenterden on a summer’s day and know that he has contributed to how good it invariably looks. He might also amble past the recreation ground, where someone will comment on the newly mown and always neatly striped grass.
Roger is one of a small crew of three whose job it is on behalf of Tenterden Town Council to keep the little Kent town looking its very best. Like him, site manager Dave Bourner and colleague Andy Corcoran each inject real pride into their work.
“I was born and bred here and have spent all my 60-odd years here,” says Roger, who is a former town councillor. “I love Tenterden and enjoy doing my bit for the town. If I can also get paid for it then what could possibly be better?”
The maintenance work was once contracted out via Ashford Borough Council. The decision to employ its own team was one taken by the Town Council in a bid to ensure high standards for a town that boasts a particularly wide and attractive main street lined with many small independent shops that make it a draw for a wide surrounding area.
Along with the maintenance crew, the council has also invested in the equipment they need for a small team to cover a lot of ground that includes large areas of grass cutting in the recreation ground, churchyard, verges and council estates. The relationship with Lister Wilder’s Ashford depot – represented today by Area Sales Manager Andy Taylor – has been in place for three years.
“We were looking for a new dealer to support us and needed new equipment,” says Dave, who manages the maintenance team and equipment while also himself being hands-on. “Lister Wilder was recommended to us; we tried them out and have been with them ever since. Having them to help us choose the right machinery and attachments has been brilliant support for me.”
“We needed to replace our tractor because it was under-powered and had no cab – it could pull a trailer but was not capable of doing much more. So we traded that in and got an all-singing and dancing Kubota plus a Trimax mower which between them are absolutely fundamental to our work.”
The tractor is a 62hp Kubota 2602 with HST hydrostatic transmission providing three ranges and dual speed with six-range transmission. A load-sensing stall guard feature ensures that the engine gives optimum power for all tasks, whilst the auto-throttle ensures that engine speed is right for the task in hand. A premium cab offers high levels of comfort, space and visibility and is very important for a team that can now work in the rain without a soaking.
The tractor is fitted with an LA1054 Kubota front loader which can be quickly attached without tools. The bucket it carries is designed to: scoop and lift materials; bulldoze, grapple and lift objects; dig out; and back-drag a surface.
After many years in agriculture working with manual tractors, Roger was initially cautious about changing to hydrostatic transmission. “Having worked with it, I would now recommend this to anyone,” he says. “It is the best small tractor with loader I have used, and the HST is absolutely brilliant. I wouldn’t go back to a standard gearbox.”
Partnering the tractor is a Trimax Procut S4 mower with an 81-inch wide cut and a work rate of around four acres per hour. “It’s an absolutely first-class finishing mower,” says Roger. “It puts in the stripes that we want at our recreation ground but it’s also versatile so you can use it on verges if you need to.”
Latest addition to the equipment supplied by Lister Wilder is a rear-mounted hedge cutter with a head that allows the flail to rotate up to 246 degrees to cut close to the tractor when space necessitates. Says Dave: “Its doing a good job and is saving us so many man hours on hedge cutting. We do one day of hedge cutting that would previously have taken three or four weeks by hand.
He adds: “There used to be five in our team where now there are just three, but with the right equipment we can do the job and keep Tenterden looking as it should.”