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I have listened to the interview and thought on the whole it sounded positive.

I felt there was far to much discussion about how BALI, SGD, APL, LJN, etc. can work together, it's not that that's a bad thing, it just strikes me as trade bodies focusing inwardly to much and being worried about what the next guy's doing rather than what those they represent are doing.

I would suggest a lot of members on LJN, like me, have little clue what all these bodies do and what factions they represent and probably quite a few couldn't care less either.

I've been in this industry all my working life and if I'm unsure of what they're about, what chance as the newcommer got ?

Mark way well have to wear his Flak jacket on LJN if he participates, not because there is a negative view against the APL at all, ( any suggestions of that have been well overblown by some over sensitive members ), but because he will be opening himself up to the guys on the front line and they quite often speak their mind !

If he were the chairman of any High Street store or whatever, he would be open to the same positive and negative feedback.

Personally he sounded a level headed guy who's been through the ups and downs of the industry and my only slight gripe would be he would be advised to stop using the term, "the little guy". He almost certainly means no harm by it but it is just the sort of thing that would be jumped on in a forum. It's a demeaning phrase to those just starting out or those that simply run a small business.

Also, to be balanced, I also feel he's right to be wary on certain topics because I feel that Phil has an ongoing agenda regarding these organisations that may be totally fair and above board, it's simply, even after being an LJN member for some time, I don't know clearly what it is and I think the APL maybe are unsure or wary of being caught out as well.

It would be good, perhaps, if Phil did a post somewhere outlining his reasons for pursuing, ( if you like ), these organisations.

That way, if we agree, we can back him 100%

Of course, major apologies if that post exists and I haven't found it.

That's my 2 cents.


I think this topic is going to get quite a response. I am a BALI member and the reason I decided to join was I felt my staff and I wanted to feel a sense of achievment, that is to say we have spent a good long time learning the trade and feel we have reached a point where the quality of our work should be recognised. I have no problem with good landsacpers whether they are in APL, BALI or not.

My problem is having to work in the industry where there is little or no quality control checks being made. Time and time again I see clients who have given large amounts of money to so called landsacpers and they've ended up having to pay out again to put things right.

I felt that BALI with there vetting process, was at least something all the good landscapers could join. Sadly most of my clients haven't heard of BALI or APL and I have to explain who they are.

I do agree though, both of these organisations should provide an open door to those who are starting out and those who actually want to improve their business.

One final thing, I've met Mark Gregory and Paul Cowell and they have always been very keen to pass on help and advice and they are to be admired for what they have done in and for the industry. Give them a break, I'm sure we'll all be singing from the same song sheet soon.

If the comments are anything to go buy, I can't wait for the techy to fix my computer so I can actually listen to the interview! Definitely trade associations should be all about promoting professionalism and achievements, so there should be a graded scale of membership as an individual/company progresses but, most of all, we have seen untold trade associations from the British Medical Association and the Bar Council right down to local 'vetted tradesman' associations struggle because they don't always enjoy the confidence of the public. The NHBC, for example, has got a lot of stick recently, and rightly so in my opinion. For an trade association to flourish long-term, it must offer the public real guarantees over the quality of work done; the fairness of trading terms; and teeth in the event of complaints. In this way, it will get taken seriously and there will be a real trading benefit to membership and a real differential between the safe, decent workers and the cowboys. It might mean, ultimately, using the services of an independent ombudsman for complaints. One last thing (sorry!) a plethora of trade groups (eg Guild of Master Crafstment, Federation of Master Builders etc. etc.) confuses the public and dilutes the brand, so mergers are inevitable and essential for marketing purposes (even the NAEA and ARLA have joined forces recently in the world of estate agency and lettings, for example).

I agree wholeheartedly with all the comments re the confusion that is presented to potential clients with the increasing array of associations and schemes supposedly vetting the practitioner - at the end of the day none of this works in terms of gaining or keeping a client base. The largest and most prestigious of businesses will go under due to market forces despite the most expensive accreditation and the smallest of cowboy operatives will continue to source work despite none at all.

It is simply down to what works for the practitioner or business - personally involvement with the tree charity (International Tree Foundation) led me to my best and most financially rewarding clients.

The LJN is of course very different due to its structure and ultimately plays a role that is similar to 'peer review' with regards all other associations linked to the industry - an enviable position.

I still believe in what was written here, which may answer gary's question as to why to keep up the pressure -

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