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Winter weather - be prepared!

By Amanda McCaw on Monday 14th November, 2016
Autumn 2016 has been a benign one. The warmest October for many years has meant the beautiful colours have lasted, and we’ve enjoyed blue skies, gentle winds, and little in the way of meteorological drama. But November has brought with it the first signs of winter, temperatures have dropped, there have been a few frosts, and some heavy rain. We’re reminded that winter can be delayed, but not avoided altogether! Our workload can be unpredictable in the winter months, and we keep an eagle eye on the weather forecasts. While we’re always on hand to deal with emergencies, there’s plenty we can all do to prepare for extreme conditions. Water, snow and ice are the main protagonists at this time of year, and in this blog we look at preventing and dealing with rainfall and water issues. Awareness of the damage that water can do is sadly increasing. Recent years have seen so many periods where flooding has affected individuals and businesses. The biggest problem with flooding is that once the water has started coming in, the damage is already done. Early anticipation of a potential problem is the best possible plan - better safe than sorry. So for anyone who knows that flooding has been a problem in the past, or who thinks their home or premises may be under threat, set yourself up with a supply of sandbags. Apart from in the most extreme situations, protecting all external doors with sandbags prevents the water finding its way in. Streetwise delivers sandbags on behalf of RBC. We will work 24 hours a day, and can have 20 vehicles delivering sandbags to any location within the borough. But it goes without saying that as soon as a flooding situation becomes apparent, demand is huge, and there is a limit to the number of sandbags that can be distributed. If you wait until the water is at door level to take action, by the time the sandbags are delivered, it could be too late. The knowledge that you have your own sandbags and are master of your own destiny is incredibly reassuring. But if you haven’t adopted this belt and braces position, and need to rely on a third party, notify the Council as soon as you think there may be a problem, not when there is already a problem. Get your call in early. It sounds so obvious, but sandbags at your doors can make the difference between being flooded or not. Another cause of water penetration is blocked gutters and drains. Preventative action that should be taken in autumn is to make sure gutters are clear, and have respect for your drains – don’t expect them to deal with fat and materials that can cause blockages. At Streetwise we have clever and efficient kit for gutter-clearing, a service that we provide to businesses, schools, or private individuals. Annual gutter clearing is a very sensible preventative measure. So our message is, BE PREPARED! But if you have an emergency, we offer an out of hours help line for problems due to flooding or storm damage. Between 5pm and 7am, when the office isn’t fully manned, you can contact our emergency call centre, on 0115 981 1143. Our next blog post will be about dealing with the difficulties presented by snow and ice. Bob Alderton, Operations Manager

We're ready winter – but are your trees ready?

By Amanda McCaw on Tuesday 11th October, 2016
It's fair to say that there's very little downtime for the team at Streetwise, whatever the season. But autumn and winter present their own challenges that make planning more challenging. Spring and summer are busy times, but the work load is predictable. But as the evenings draw in, and the weather patterns become somewhat random, we need to be on hand to meet the unexpected. High winds, torrential rain, ice and snow all bring with them problems that require prompt and efficient attention. It's worth remembering that, while we are on hand to deal with emergencies, there is also a huge amount we can do to ensure you are prepared for all eventualities. In the first of this series of blogs on preparing for winter, and to coincide with the date of the great gales of 1987, we talk trees. Trees shed their leaves in autumn to help them survive the cold, dry air of winter. Our worst weather tends to occur once the leaves have fallen, but in 1987 the unprecedented gales came at a time when most trees were still fully clad. It's widely believed that the destruction that was wreaked that night would have been much less severe if it had occurred a month later when the branches were bare. 120 mph gusts of wind were recorded on the night of 15/16 October 1987, and the damage caused over much of England was widespread and devastating. An estimated 15 million trees were felled, including six of Sevenoaks ancient oak trees. Almost a quarter of Kent's trees were brought down. Fallen trees blocked roads and railways, caused untold damage to property, and caused the loss of life. While weather forecasting has become more reliable over the course of the last thirty years, it's unlikely that any amount of accurate advance warning would have saved those trees. But that catastrophic event does serve as a reminder of the damage that can be caused by fallen trees, and highlights the need for good tree maintenance. If left undisciplined, trees can become hazardous. Long term maintenance schedules provide reassurance that potential problems are literally nipped in the bud. Regular pruning means that trees maintain a strong structure - removing dead, diseased or damaged branches strengthens the tree, and removing co-dominant leading branches makes trees more robust in strong winds. While a regular schedule of tree maintenance is important, it's also vital that dead or damaged branches are removed as soon as they're spotted. At Streetwise we have a team of experts on call to provide solutions to long term plans and short term crises. We carry out tree hazard surveys and risk management, and we manage on-site trees to ensure they're safe – and of course to meet Health and Safety obligations. We also carry out tree felling, stump removal, and are on hand to deal with fallen trees. As October progresses into November, leaf clearing is a substantial daily task for our team! On a more upbeat note, let's not forget that we are approaching the inevitable run up to Christmas when the fir tree comes into its own. We are often tasked with installing Christmas lights on both living and cut trees for a range of customers including schools, councils and developers. This year, we will be installing a beautifully lit for a new school, Bluecoat School in Bilborough on behalf of the developers Wates. As in previous years we will be creating a light show in the busy shopping area of Tudor Square in Nottingham, turning the humble London Plane tree into a dazzling tree of light with 2,500 low energy light bulbs, and also lighting up trees in Bridgford on Central Avenue. Our customers include large developers, local authorities, landowners, and individuals, and our arboreal services are extensive. Whatever your needs, give us a call to talk about trees on 0115 9148408. John Scott-Lee, managing director

Community Allotment at East Grove and the Rosary in Bingham

By Amanda McCaw on Tuesday 20th September, 2016
During this summer Streetwise Environmental LTD and Metropolitan created a Community Allotment at East Grove and the Rosary in Bingham. The project was set up for Metropolitan residents - particularly those who cannot commit to managing a full plot by themselves but still want to garden - to learn how to grow healthy, fresh, organic produce. Streetwise Environmental LTD initially grew all the vegetables from seed and then donated them to this project. The plants have included tomatoes, runner beans, sweet corn, radishes, beetroot, lettuce and courgettes. The project is operated on a totally voluntary basis and is open to all, no matter background, age, gender or race. John Scott-Lee, managing director of Streetwise Environmental says, "Residents also use the allotment as a peaceful, green, quiet space in which they can take time out from their everyday lives, socialise, and get involved in something really positive. At Streetwise, we’re happy to be able to make contributions like this to our local community and see such positive outcomes."