The winter months are busy with work to replace or repair fencing, pollarding and coppicing trees, ditch slubbing with a JCB to improve the watercourses for wildlife and, of course, trimming the hedges along Melford Road and Brundon Lane.
The hedge trimming is carried out by a conscientious contractor who has undertaken this task for more than 20 years. In that time, however, the job has become increasingly complex as the number of obstacles has increased.
The contractor has always had to carefully negotiate the hedgerow trees – some of which have been there for very many years.
In recent years, however, an increasing amount of street furniture has added considerably to the operator’s difficulties.
Most notably, a string of eleven street lamps was added a few years ago. Soon afterwards, a bus shelter was put up near Brundon Lane, which makes access to the hedge behind something of a headache.
In addition, there are three telegraph poles, one of which carries no wires and, therefore, appears to serve no useful purpose.
More or less opposite Priory Road, there is a telecom inspection chamber in the pavement. In the past, the operator was able to straddle the tractor over this while trimming the hedge, but this is no longer possible.
Unfortunately, last year the tractor broke through the cover, thus creating a pedestrian hazard that had to be reported immediately and followed up with the consequent insurance issues.
This happened because the relatively new and cunningly placed bus stop sign prevents the contractor from avoiding the inspection covers.
The various obstacles mean that the job requires maximum operator concentration in order to avoid any mishap, so the extra hazard of having an occasional pedestrian walk under the hedge trimmer boom is an unacceptably dangerous addition to the difficulties.
With the hedge trimmer running at 3,000 revolutions per minute and the tips of the trimming blades rotating at 150mph, with the consequent debris flying all about, it really is not advisable to ignore the temporary signs placed on the pavement by the operator.
So next time you see how smart and tidy the Melford Road hedge looks, spare a thought for the contractor who carries out this difficult work to an excellent standard for the benefit of Sudbury Common Lands Charity and the town.