From the pool to the park

From the pool to the park: Workers employed by council who have found themselves idle because of closed facilities have been redeployed to work elsewhere - and one of the big winners have been local parks.

A team of employees who usually work at Katoomba pool and the fitness centre has spent about six weeks tidying up Kingsford Smith Park at Katoomba.

They have now moved on to Blackheath's Soldiers Memorial Park, clearing mountains of blackberry, ivy, cotoneaster and other weeds.

Suddenly tree ferns, camellias, azaleas and even the park's towering rhododendrons have been freed from the smothering invaders.

New skills: Council workers Terry, Harry and Jewel remove blackberry from among the rhododendrons in Blackheath's Memorial Park.

New skills: Council workers Terry, Harry and Jewel remove blackberry from among the rhododendrons in Blackheath's Memorial Park.

The workers not only have gainful employment, they are making a difference and delighted with their efforts.

It's all part of council's policy to keep staff both safe and usefully employed, said CEO, Dr Rosemary Dillon.

"Staff are working from home, wherever possible. Staff are also working from different BMCC workplaces, if required, and we are ensuring flexibility for our staff including variations to start/finish times, as well as days worked."

The program is a repeat of last year's redeployment of staff.

"This year we have seen more than 50 employees being redeployed to other areas," Dr Dillon said. "Staff from facilities like our visitor information centres, leisure centres, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and the Blue Mountains Theatre and Hub have been moved to other areas of the organisation to work - for example to human resources, customer services, records and the bulky waste and precinct teams.

"These staff are learning how other parts of the organisation work. They are learning new skills, and also bringing their skills and experience to different areas of council."

There are also more training opportunities for staff, with a number of short courses made available.

"These are unusual times and it is not business as usual," Dr Dillon said. "I'm incredibly proud of the way our workforce has continued to work so hard to deliver services in COVID-safe ways.

"Our staff are working as hard as ever, in difficult circumstances, to keep the city operating, maintained and safe."

Gardener and Ward 1 Cr Kerry Brown said: "I am really pleased to see the parks and gardens staff taking the opportunity to catch up on weeds and overgrown areas at Blackheath Memorial Park and generally in our public spaces.

"As a professional gardener, I am also finding it is easy to adopt COVID-safe practices and undertake some bigger tasks with fewer of the usual complex safety issues that arise when there is a lot more traffic and pedestrians to worry about."