Managing Director of ISS Facility Services Landscaping, Phil Jones, has criticised BALI saying he believes the organisation "has lost its way and no longer does any good for its larger members, except for those perhaps who are represented on the Board of BALI and a few others".
Speaking in the February issue of the Pro Landscaper Magazine (page 15) Jones also said "I see sufficient indications that we are still an insular group of people who have a passion for what we do, but with an inability to effectively engage with the outside world".
This is the first time I have seen dissent from within the BALI ranks and from a respected member I am sure others cannot ignore.
But of course, I am not surprised at all....I have been saying what Phil Jones has been brave enough to share, for the last 8 years.
In July 2009 I wrote an open letter to both BALI and the APL.
Whilst in private there was much support for what I was saying, the public message continued to be one of business as usual.
This time though there can be no accusations of association bashing as the criticism comes from within.
Phil Jones may have just kicked-started a movement for a more united landscape industry. If BALI et al (that means the APL too) don't take heed and begin to include every single practitioner in their ideas and future planning, then they will surely fail: And I feel that is more than a real possibility.
I can start to see ordinary landscape practitioners members squirming with embarrassment, that a badge they once sought, is fast becoming a badge of ridicule.
Only last week I read a parting letter from an ex-APL member - who had fought so hard to stand up for the association over two and a half years - throw in the towel and leave because the association just didn't listen to what he had to say.
I know from correspondence with others - both within and others who've also left - that this is no lone voice.
I feel that Landscape Juice's tough stance over the last few years has been vindicated by what Phil Jones has come out and said.
It is perhaps telling that whilst the UK's two self-appointed trade associations are failing to fulfil the needs of their members and also failing to add to their respective numbers, that Landscape Juice is growing at an alarming rate and is now, by far, the largest and fastest growing association of landscape practitioners in the UK.
Just yesterday alone the site recorded over 2,500 visitors reading over 10,000 pages. Activity did not stop all through the day as members sought help and advice to ever present their business needs.
But not only that, Landscape Juice is influencing policy at the heart of Europe via Project HERCULES and some time next month I will personally meet with ministers at the House of Commons to discuss some issues concerning SME's.