Customers who pay a service charge will receive some or all of the environmental services Midland Heart offers. These include:
- Cleaning of communal areas
- Window cleaning
- Grounds maintenance
We've worked with our customers to develop the specification and service standards whilst recruiting a core team of contractors to deliver Environmental Services, including Grounds Maintenance, Communal Cleaning and Window Cleaning services. Read more about what each of these areas involves and meet the contractors who are keeping your local area clean and green.
Meet your contractors
- John O’Conner
- Oakleaf Services
- SJ Cleaning Midlands Ltd
Window Cleaning Services
- Central Cleaning Services
What level of service can you expect?
We encourage all of our contractors to work within a simple framework which includes some basic guidelines to ensure quality is always a top priority.
- Grass is cut no lower than 25mm and cannot be left to grow any longer than 125mm. If the grass is between these measurements then the maintenance is classed as correct.
- Contractors are no longer required to remove grass from areas and instead adopt a ‘Cut and Drop’ system which means we are able to offer cost savings to customers – a grass collection service would double current costs due to an increase in labour, vehicles, machinery and fuel. It is mulched to fine pieces so it is naturally spread and absorbed into the grass. This method is also more eco friendly and adds vital nutrients to produce a healthier lawn.
- The contractor visits can reflect the speed at which the grass grows. This could be anything from weekly visits when grass growth is at its fastest, to around five weeks during a hot summer when there is little or no growth.
Shrub borders and hedges
All shrub borders and hedges are cared for and pruned, mainly in the winter months, to retain the shape of the plants and allow for flowering periods. We are always careful to ensure that growth of these borders and hedges is monitored so they don’t affect sight lines for traffic, blocking of light to windows and vents, or public footpaths.
Weeds are treated using a herbicide to keep growth below 20% of the total shrub border or hard surface area.
Litter is collected and disposed during each visit. Visits can be increased where there is a specific litter issue occurring, and we will always take time to investigate where these issues increase.
Leaf fall collection
This service begins around November to collect the first fall of autumn leaves and continues over the winter period until all the leaves are cleared. This can last right up until the end of February.
What’s not included?
We can’t include tree works, control of invasive weeds (e.g. Japanese Knotweed), removal of bulk waste, animal or human waste within this service.
What level of service can you expect?
Communal cleaning takes place in a hybrid cycle, which means that every site is visited in two week cycles, but if issues affect the area between these times a contractor will return. The main areas that communal cleaning covers are:
- Cleaning of floor areas – vacuuming carpets (where electric points are available), sweeping and mopping of non-carpeted floors.
- Cleaning of hand rails and skirting boards, removal of marks and stains from walls where possible.
- Washing down and wiping of painted surfaces, replacement of internal bulbs, cleaning of internal windows in reach of the cleaners.
What level of service can you expect?
The window cleaning framework requires windows above ground level to be cleaned using an environmentally friendly Pure Water Pole system. This type of system allows windows to be cleaned without the operator leaving the ground which is much safer.
The pure water cleans the windows without the use of detergents, using the water flow and a flexible brush to loosen dirt and leave the window even cleaner than using traditional detergents.
Checking contractor performance
All of our Environmental Services are regularly checked for quality and value. We do this through three main channels:
Greater Neighbourhood Inspections
These inspections are carried out by our Neighbourhood Housing Officers and focus on checking quality and how well each contractor has followed the agreed guidelines. A simple Gold, Silver and Bronze scoring system is used to rank contractors.
- Gold – awarded to contractors who fit within the guidelines.
- Silver - awarded to sites which are mostly within the guidelines but could be improved further.
- Bronze – for those outside of the required standard. Contractors are fined for sites that fall within this Bronze category and are required to bring these sites up to scratch at their own cost.
We have recruited a group of volunteer Customer Inspectors who carry out their own independent inspections of random sites. These inspections are crucial in establishing a balanced viewpoint of our services and wouldn’t be possible without the help of our dedicated customer volunteers. Again the Gold, Silver and Bronze scoring system is used to ensure a balanced inspection.
Each month we ask an independent research company to carry out surveys with a range of customers on their overall satisfaction with Environmental Services in their area. The results of these surveys then form part of the overall scoring for our contractors, and again, contractors can receive fines if their work isn’t up to scratch.
Frequently asked questions
You don’t collect the grass anymore. Why is this?
Cost savings to you. Providing a grass collection service would double costs due to an increase in labour, vehicles, machinery, fuel and disposal.
- Saves time (no more bagging).
- Saves money (less water and fertiliser are needed for lawns).
- Saves landfill space which is good for the environment.
- Encourages a healthier lawn (clippings contain valuable nutrients).
- Saves energy (mowing time, hauling to the landfill)
How often will you be cutting the grass?
Your grass won’t be cut every two weeks as before and will instead follow a more varied cutting pattern depending on the time of year e.g. spring might have higher growth so involve more cutting time. Grass is cut no lower than 25mm and cannot be left to grow any longer than 125mm. If the grass is between these measurements then the maintenance is classed as correct.
Grass will continue to be cut throughout the year and time that is saved in the new cutting patterns will allow contractors to focus on other areas such as shrub beds.
Why don’t you cut all the shrubs at the same time?
Many shrubs go through a flowering period, and bulk pruning can stop this flowering from happening. To keep shrubs looking their best, pruning is carried out once they have finished their flowering period, which is also much better for the environment and local wildlife.
Only one side of the shrub outside of my door has been pruned, why is this?
We carry out what we call a ‘containment prune’ in areas where there is a likelihood of the shrub blocking access to properties, particularly if there is a need for disabled access. The rest of the shrub is then left alone as long as it is healthy and at an acceptable size.
The video below explains how to deal with pests in your home.
A video offering advice about dealing with pests and infestations in your home such as: rats and vermin, bugs and wasps.
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