‘We’re on hand to clear the fallen trees...’

HARD AT WORK From left, Ian Woods, Glenn Fox, Josh Swan and Steve Young. Pictures: Allan Hutchings (1442-325)
HARD AT WORK From left, Ian Woods, Glenn Fox, Josh Swan and Steve Young. Pictures: Allan Hutchings (1442-325)
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When the strong winds hit and trees come crashing down, there is one team whose job it is to clear the mess.

Whether it is a 30ft oak in the middle of a main road or a branch fallen on to a car, members of the arboricultural team from Amey will be the first people there.

Contracted by Hampshire County Council, the team spends its days travelling around clearing dangerous trees or diseased ones.

But when bad weather hits and winds reach 80mph the job load increases and the unknown awaits.

Steve Young is supervisor of the arboricultural team and is in charge of distributing the operators when calls come in.

And they have been sent to a number of different sites all across the area with different problems in the past couple of weeks.

‘The bad weather has definitely influenced the type and amount of work we have been doing over the Christmas period,’ says Steve.

‘But we have the tools to do any job that is required of us and we’re prepared for any type of weather.

‘All our team members are well trained and have the necessary skills to complete any situation they may face.

‘Our trucks all have lights on them so if we get called out in the middle of the night we can work safely.

‘Everyone has the appropriate gear because we never know what might occur.

‘Recently we had to clear fallen trees on the A32, which runs through Gosport, and it had to be done quickly as it is a main road.

‘But as we were clearing up trees, we had more falling down so that was a tough job.

‘Luckily, we have everything we need to complete it.’

The Amey team, based in Bishops Waltham, keeps a close eye on the weather forecast so they know what calls could come their way.

Steve adds: ‘The procedure is simple from the moment we get a call in.

‘We will either be contacted by the county council or a member of the public who will give us a description of the problem.

‘A two-man team will then go along to the site and assess what needs to be done.

‘This could range from parking up and chopping off a leaning branch or having to close a road to move a fallen tree.

‘If it is a relatively small job, they will deal with it.

‘If it is bigger, they will call in more teams or the grab truck to help clear the damage.

‘Our main priorities are to keep the public safe and away from harm but also clear A and B roads as quickly as possible.

‘And with most jobs, it isn’t until the team get there that they know the true extent of what they have to face.

‘This is because people either exaggerate the problem or simplify it.

‘It can sometimes be annoying but at least it makes the job interesting because you never quite know what you are going to face.’

The Amey team works in two shifts – day shift and the emergency shift.

But working on the day team doesn’t mean the schedule is straight forward.

They can get called away from their current job and sent to deal with something bigger.

As supervisor, Steve will have to look at the location and redistribute the staff quickly.

‘It is important that we react quickly to jobs because it can be dangerous to have branches hanging off or trees lying in roads,’ says Steve.

‘But the public are very good when they see us working, especially in recent weeks.

‘We do get a bit of grumbling occasionally but the majority understand we are trying to get things cleared up as quick as possible.

‘And usually, it won’t take more than a couple of hours depending on the damage so things should get cleared up quite quickly.’


AS ONE of the newest members on the Amey team, Josh Swan could have been overwhelmed by how busy they were.

But he has been working in arboriculture for nine years and knows what to expect.

In the three months he has been with Amey, the 25-year-old has had to remove a large beech tree off a Land Rover as well as other clearance work.

He says: ‘I joined just as the bad weather hit but I don’t mind it.

‘It makes the job more interesting and you have to clear up a range of things that might not be on a normal schedule.

‘But you also spend more time doing one thing. The beech tree which fell on a car took four hours to move which is the longest I’ve spent on one job.’


FACING the unknown is a benefit of bad weather.

Those are the views of 43-year-old Glenn Fox who says the bad weather mixes up the types of jobs they do so they are always facing the unknown.

‘I like the fact that we are never 100 per cent sure what we are facing,’ says the operator.

‘When we get calls, people can make them seem worse so we go along expecting a massive branch and find a twig.

‘But it can work the other way so it mixes the days up quite nicely.’

Glenn also says the public make their job easier by being understanding.

He adds: ‘Everyone has been affected by the bad weather so thankfully, they understand when a road is closed or traffic is slow.

‘It definitely makes the job easier.’


IT IS not all doom and gloom when bad weather hits for operator Ian Woods.

The 28-year-old, who has been with Amey for five years, enjoys the windy weather as it makes his job that little bit more exciting.

He says: ‘I’m normally on day shift so that can range from felling trees or tidying up streets so when we get bad weather. It can make the job more exciting.

‘Like every job, when you are doing it every day, it gets a bit boring.

‘But when you get called to jobs where massive trees have fallen, it can get exciting.’

Ian doesn’t mind the increase in calls either.

He adds: ‘The more jobs you have, the quicker the days goes so that is a bonus.’