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Council delivering with Ventrac

Council delivering with Ventrac: North Lincolnshire Council is committed to delivering best value to its residents and demonstrated this with the recent purchase of two Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractors and multiple attachments. Delivered and installed by local dealer Russells, the package also included two MU rotary mowing decks, one Tough Cut deck and a Tiller attachment.

So impressed with the versatility of the Ventrac, the council’s Green and Open Spaces Manager Carl Beacock, is already looking at adding an Aeravator, Contour mowing deck, Edger and Finishing deck to this ever burgeoning mini-fleet.

Council delivering with Ventrac

Council delivering with Ventrac

Prior to taking up this latest position, experience groundscare professional Carl Beacock spent 7 years as Grounds Maintenance Manager at the Riverside Housing Group and 9 years as Estate Manager for Kingston-upon- Hull Council.

“We were looking to replace our aging Aebi mower,” he said, “but I wanted to ensure that we achieved best value with an alternative machine that was more than a ‘one-trick pony’, albeit the Aebi is a very competent one!

“When researching the market, I spoke to some colleagues in the south of England, who provided effusive feedback on the Ventrac, especially its versatility. This sounded exactly what I was looking for – a machine that not only performs well as a mower, but one that could be used 52 weeks a year with the right attachments.

“We contacted our local dealer Russells, who quickly organised a demonstration and within less than a minute I realised it was the machine for us. It performs on slopes, its stability is excellent and every attachment does what we expect, ticking the box for versatility. We are mandated to maintain all green spaces in the area including parks, sports pitches, cemeteries and roadside verges. Traditionally we have been using ride-on cylinder and rotary mowers, but they are designed for one specific purpose. whereas the Ventrac is much more versatile.

“We can mow our sports pitches down at 25 mm, then change out the deck in a matter of minutes and be cutting down bracken and brambles. We have a policy of introducing more wildflower meadows across the area and for this this purpose we purchased the tiller attachment. This helps us quickly prepare the soil bed in readiness for the specialist seed mixes and we can do it on steep slopes. We can also use it when we are restoring football and rugby pitches.

“I think this demonstrates that we have purchased a couple of multi-capacity machines, that produce a finished cut on fine turf as good as our current cylinder mowers, but can fulfil numerous other functions. We have been blown away by their performance; every member of my team is commenting on how good they are and that doesn’t happen very often! Without a doubt, it’s a great piece of kit and the best investment I’ve made during my career.”

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Council protects parks and green spaces

Council protects parks and green spaces: Liverpool residents will be guaranteed access to park and green spaces, forever, removing the threat that any might be built on or sold off, in a new strategic partnership between green space charity Fields in Trust and Liverpool City Council. Liverpool is the first local authority to ensure local access to green space in perpetuity for all its citizens by legally protecting each of their eligible parks and green spaces.

The city council’s Cabinet, on Friday March 19th, committed to legally protect 100 much-loved parks and green spaces across the city, totalling over 1,000 hectares and sets the ambition that every resident will live no more than a ten-minute walk from a high-quality green space. Protected parks include local recreation grounds as well as well-known city centre destination parks and children’s playgrounds. (see attached) This landmark decision ensures there will always be local parks and green spaces available for current and future generations of Liverpudlians to enjoy.

Council protects parks and green spaces

Council protects parks and green spaces

Parks and green spaces have been vital over the last year as places to play, exercise, relax, reflect and the only safe place to meet loved ones and connect with friends and our neighbours; they will continue to be important as part of our recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the wider City Recovery Plan Liverpool’s Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon has committed to work with Fields in Trust and secure legal protection of Liverpool’s entire portfolio of green space. The decision is based on evidence of the health, wellbeing and community benefits they deliver. Councillor Simon said “Liverpool is blessed to have so many stunning green spaces, and this new initiative means we can ensure everyone has access to free, local outdoor spaces for sport, play and recreation, forever.
“The health, wellbeing and community benefits these locations deliver are priceless, demonstrated so clearly during this pandemic where they have become such a central and important part of our lives.

“And the benefits aren’t just health related. Access to green spaces improves our neighbourhoods, tackles climate change, supports education and economic growth and they frequently become the stage on which we host many of our hugely popular cultural celebrations.
“Our partnership with Fields in Trust is a ground-breaking, forward-thinking approach to protecting our parks and green spaces and we look forward to working with them to secure the future of these vital assets.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected Liverpool more severely than many parts of the UK: both in the number of cases and the rate of infection. Research conducted by Fields in Trust has demonstrated clear physical health and mental wellbeing benefits from regular use of parks and green spaces, yet these vital community assets are not equally distributed.

Fields in Trust’s evaluation of Liverpool’s green space shows that there is around 25.3 square metres per person, around a quarter the size of a six-yard box on a football pitch. Yet only four hectares of Liverpool’s parks are currently protected leaving them vulnerable to loss or building development. This new commitment will protect green spaces in every one of Liverpool’s 30 wards and guarantee they will remain as green spaces forever. This is vital when 1 in 6 people in Liverpool (16%) have no access to a private or shared garden, compared to 1 in 8 people (12%) across Britain as a whole. Additionally, the average size of Liverpudlians’ private outdoor space (144.4m2) is less than half the average across Britain (332.7m2). (Source: ONS)

Fields in Trust Chair of Trustees, Jo Barnett said: “Through the pandemic we’ve realised just how valuable parks and green spaces are to our health and wellbeing, yet across the UK only 6% of parks are protected and access to them is not equitable. We welcome this pioneering commitment by Liverpool City Council to recognise the proven physical and mental health benefits of local parks. These are valuable places; places where we can all move, breathe, run and play. We need to champion and support these precious spaces by protecting them for future generations to enjoy. Because once lost, they are lost forever.”
With the population of Liverpool set to increase by 10.3% over the next 20 years, any future loss of parks and green spaces would disproportionately impact the most disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, who would be missing out on these health benefits, as well as opportunities to get out into nature, have a kickabout and connect with their neighbours.

Fields in Trust have been conducting development work in Liverpool, using an evidence-led approach to make the case to Liverpool City Council for the legal protection of their green spaces; as well as contributing to Simon O’Brien’s green space audit, becoming a partner of the Liverpool City Region Year of Environment and supporting local Friends of parks groups. At the 2019 General Election, MP for Liverpool, West Derby, Ian Byrne, along with 37 other MPs took Fields in Trust’s “Parks Protector Pledge”, committing to championing parks and green spaces within their constituencies and across the UK.

Full details of the pioneering agreement between Liverpool City Council and Fields in Trust can be found on the Fields in Trust Website www.fieldsintrust.org/liverpool

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Mankar ULV praised by Luton Council

Mankar ULV praised by Luton Council: Luton Borough Council has been reaping the benefits of using innovative Mankar spraying units in its weed control programme.

The promising results come after Agrovista Amenity won a contract for the supply of weed control products to Luton Council. The tender was based on Roundup glyphosate and Mankar ULV spraying units.

Mankar ULV praised by Luton Council

Mankar ULV praised by Luton Council

Mankar spraying units are professional systems for effective, environmentally responsible and economical weed control, with Roundup glyphosate being applied without water. All the spraying units are based on ULV technology which stands for ‘ultra-low volume.’

The primary area of application for Luton Council is pavement weed control, but the units can be introduced for use on highways, parks, grounds, public gardens, cemeteries and educational establishments.

Duncan Stirling, Street Spraying Manager at Luton Council, was attracted to the many benefits of the Mankar spraying system. He said: “A 50% reduction in the amount of herbicide required to maintain these areas will provide an immediate economic benefit, both in purchasing herbicide, and reduction in disposing of plastic containers.

“The ease of use with the Mankar system, in that the herbicide can be applied neat, is of continual benefit to us as it negates the need to pre-mix into knapsacks or source water supplies. This will provide a noticeable benefit to operatives in time efficiency.

“The battery life of the machine provides more than enough charge for each period of use and if required, batteries can be easily switched. Feedback from all our operatives has been extremely positive, particularly in relation to ergonomics; the 3.4kg spraying unit is a lot more comfortable in comparison to knapsack and other spraying systems, which can weigh over 20kg. The team has also commented on how quiet the device is when operating, causing minimal disruption to members of the public.

“Not only will we be saving money, but we will also see an improvement in the quality of the areas we maintain.”

Following the award of the contract, Agrovista Amenity delivered a training session to the team of operatives. Ed Smith, Landscape Team Manager for Agrovista Amenity is delighted to see the Mankar systems making a difference for Luton Council.

“It’s been fantastic to see Luton Council report such positive results from using the Mankar sprayers,” he said.

“Not only are they a cost-effective solution, but they are more environmentally friendly, more comfortable for the operatives and ultimately, they achieve a high level of weed control in comparison to other spray systems available.”

For more information about Agrovista Amenity, visit www.agrovista.co.uk/amenity

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Council cutback challenges

Council cutback challenges: Council workers are maintaining enough grassland in Argyll and Bute to cover the entire area of Monaco – but sometimes struggling to be available to cut it.

A report has revealed that two million square metres of open grassland space is maintained by the authority’s staff – equivalent to the size of 257 Hampden Park football pitches.

Council cutbacks lead to challenges

Council cutbacks lead to challenges

It also says that parts of the area have not had their grass cut to specifications as determined by the council, with competing demands including burials and bin collections.

The budget available for grass cutting has also been reduced by more than 15% since the 2013/14 financial year.

A report on the issue will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee on Thursday.

The document, written by Kirsty Flanagan, the council’s executive director with responsibility for roads and infrastructure, said: “Over the course of last year there were a number of service delivery issues in Cowal, and to a lesser extent across the wider council area, where grassland maintenance had not been carried out to the pre-determined specification.

“This was due in part to a limited level of resilience within the team, an ageing demographic in the workforce, and a number of sickness absences, some of which were medium to long term.

“With the exception of Cowal, the rest of the council area was generally delivered to the specification, although the same limited level of resilience exists across all the council area.

“The current specification has been formed over time, and originated from historic grass cutting schedules that were in place prior to Argyll and Bute being established as a local authority in 1996.

“In recent times those historic schedules have been amended through a succession of budget reductions.”

The report states that all sports fields in the area are scheduled to be cut 21 times a year, with other facilities, such as amenity areas and cemeteries, subject to different specifications by area. These vary from 12 in Bute to 17 for Lorn and Lomond.

She continued: “Reducing the number of cuts any further is not considered to be achievable in terms of delivering meaningful savings.

“Fewer cuts mean the grass is longer when it is cut, so the time to complete the tasks increase and the strain on equipment is greater.

“This would lead to more equipment down-time and greater maintenance and/or replacement costs.

“The current service standards are achievable within the existing budget, staffing and machinery framework. However, resources are so closely matched to those standards that there is limited, if any, resilience to respond to issues which inevitably arise.

“Decisions are having to be made on a regular basis to prioritise what work can be carried out with the available resource.

“It is not unusual for our operational supervisors and managers to be faced with competing demands, including digging graves/burying the dead, collecting bins, making safe potentially dangerous defects and grass cutting.

“Inevitably, but unfortunately, grass cutting often has to be left.

“Last year, in one of the administrative areas, there was an unusual increase in burials over a period which meant that very little grass was cut.

“Although the provision of a grass cutting service is a non-statutory function, the effective maintenance of public open spaces supports the economic development and growth of the area both in terms of attracting tourists as well as new residents.

“Providing and suitably maintaining sporting facilities also supports another strategic priority – allowing people to live active, healthier and independent lives.”

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Chesham Council Bowled Over

Chesham Council Bowled Over: Throughout the Chesham Town Council district there are a large number of highly manicured grassed areas that need dedicated upkeep. 

Having previously used pedestrian mowers with collector boxes, Paul Isom the Parks and Premises Manager, decided they needed to become more efficient.  After speaking with their local dealer P A Turney and following numerous demonstrations they were bowled over by the ISEKI SXG326.

Chesham Council Bowled Over

“The SXG326 ride on mower collected with the same striped finish as the pedestrian mower with the added benefit of completing it in a fraction of the time.  Its powerful 21hp engine means the mower easily tackles varied terrain whilst completing the jobs quickly with its generous 54” width of cut.  The large 600litre hopper saves us valuable hours by limiting the amount of times you need to stop mowing in order to empty the collector.

Collection of autumn leaves by the SXG326 has been a god send, we are all relieved we no longer have to do all the tiresome work of raking.  We couldn’t believe how well the collector picks these up, especially when it’s been raining and everything is sodden and heavy.

Wildflower meadow areas have increased in parks in recent years which does cut down the cutting cycles required throughout the year but the final cut and collect at the end of each Summer can be hard work.  We however set the SXG326 on the highest height of cut and it mows it all down and collects with no issues, that’s when you realise how effective this piece of kit really is!

Above all this and what really surprised us was how brilliant it was at collecting up all the goose poo around the parks, this is such an unexpected but now invaluable bonus! It makes the parks a much nicer place for the general public to visit whilst also making our lives easier with less cleaning to do,” explained Paul.

As the Parks and Premises Manager at Chesham Town Council, Paul Isom looks after all the parks, opens spaces, woodland plus the theatre, townhall, gym and other public facilities along with his team of 7 staff and Deputy Manager.  As part of the maintenance fleet they also have an outfront flail mower, compact tractor, triple mower for all the non pristine grass verges and tractor with flail for the larger parkland areas.   “Having the ISEKI on the fleet with its multitude of uses assists in allowing us the ability to contract out our services to nearby towns and parishes.

Nothing seems too much trouble for our local dealer P A Turney, Joshua Walker ensures any questions or issues are dealt with the same day where possible.  You cannot ask for more than that.

Having purchased the SXG326 purely to cut and collect the massive amount of parks and manicured verges which are required to be rolled and striped throughout the town, I cannot believe how much more versatile this mower is.  I would not hesitate to recommend this product to another person looking for a reliable mower with an outstanding finish left every time.”

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Council Turns To Charterhouse

Council Turns To Charterhouse: A Verti-Quake® and Rink Topdresser have become the latest additions to the machinery fleet of Oldham Council.

The redevelopment of a number of sports pitches has seen the purchase of machinery necessary to meet the maintenance specifications. For District Supervisor David Barlow, the latest investment compliments his existing stable of Redexim Charterhouse equipment.

Council Turns To Charterhouse

“We’re very fortunate as a council to be investing not only in our facilities, but in the machinery needed to keep them at their best” explains David, who together with another Supervisor, head up a maintenance team of 40. “Over the last 10 years, 13 pitches mainly used for football, have been redeveloped and converted from soil to sand-based surfaces. This has changed the maintenance programme required to keep the pitches performing to a certain specification, and the machinery we had was struggling to do the job.”

With an Overseeder, Carrier and Verti-Drain® from Charterhouse already in their fleet, David knows it’s kit that can be relied on. “When funds became available, top of my list was equipment to assist with the tasks of slitting and topdressing the pitches, which we should be conducting at least once a year. I spoke with Richard Lucas of Charterhouse and Steve Massey at our local dealer Sharrocks and following impressive demonstrations, and ruling out other machines, we purchased a Rink DS3800 topdresser and Verti-Quake 3825 earlier this year.”

“The Rink gives us a fantastic, even spread across the pitches, making the job much quicker and easier than it was with our previous spreader. It is also fitted with an agitator which prevents material sticking, ensuring a good flow of sand. This machine is already coming into its own as we undertake our football pitch renovations, helping us to fulfil the requirement of applying 50 tonnes of rootzone to each pitch, each year. The Verti-Quake meanwhile will become a key tool to help improve aeration not only of our new sand-based pitches, but across a range of surfaces under our remit.”

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Council Invests In Third Toro Machine

Council Invests In Third Toro Machine: East Devon District Council has recently invested in a third Toro Groundsmaster 360 after its previous two models purchased in 2015, have proved to be a huge success with the Council’s groundscare department.

Dan Haydon, from the groundscare department, says that there were a lot of boxes for these machines to tick with reliability at the fore and the Groundsmaster 360 has ticked them all.

Council Invests In Third Toro Machine

“We have so many different kinds of grounds to maintain, from communal gardens and children’s play areas to sports pitches and cemeteries,” says Dan. “Having a robust, reliable machine that can adapt is vital and the Groundsmaster 360 does just that.

“Our machines need to be in use every day for eight and a half hours from spring until November; it’s a big task. With the two GM360s we’ve been using for four years, we’ve never had a problem, so it wasn’t a hard decision to purchase another one.”

The Council had been using triple cylinder mowers before purchasing the new GM360 rotary mowers. Due to government cuts, the frequency of cutting areas had to be reduced and its previous mowers weren’t able to keep the grass short for long enough, which is why the department opted to trial the GM360 zero-turn mower

The quad-steer all-wheel drive steering of the GM360 provides maximum productivity even in undulating terrain. Able to climb hills without slipping and make 180 degree turns without tearing turf, Dan couldn’t be happier with the machine.

“Whatever the weather or type of terrain – it performs across the board. We’ve seen a real improvement, and so have our other teams. We currently have eight teams across Devon, three of which have Toro machines, but now everyone is noticing the difference with Toro and there is definite potential in the future for Toro to pushed out across all the teams.”

For more information, visit: reesinkturfcare.co.uk

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Borough Council Choose Imants ShockWave

Borough Council Choose Imants ShockWave: Ribble Valley Borough Council has invested in their own Imants ShockWave to help alleviate compaction and get games on.

Chris Shepard, Head Gardener at Ribble Council has 14 sports pitches and the fields at Clitheroe Castle, a medieval construction that has been in place for 800-years, to look after as well as other non-sports areas across the Ribble Valley.

Borough Council Choose Imants ShockWave

The council had a desire to improve the drainage on the pitches and prevent fixture cancellations while improving other areas that were less problematic. To achieve this the decision to purchase a ShockWave was made and it has had a busy start to life during its first three months in Lancashire with the difference already visible.

Chris said: “There were some pitches that had some standing water, but it had got to a point where we needed to do something regarding drainage for all of the pitches and the land to put money back into it and improve our facilities and we thought to get better use in the winter periods that the ShockWave was the way to go.

“There has been a difference in some of the pitches we’ve used it on. There was one area that would always hold water but that’s gone now. It’s still a bit softer underfoot than the rest of the field but you’re not squelching water like you would have been.

“Once we go on that area again, we’ll be able to go deeper and get down to 18 inches and that’ll definitely help.”

The ShockWave is specifically designed to revitalise heavy wear areas by relieving soil compaction and in turn improve aeration and remove surface water. When doing the linear aerator causes very little disturbance, to the point that play can continue virtually straight away.

Borough Council Choose Imants ShockWave

For Chris this is an important factor when deciding when to deploy the machine because it can used close to fixture to provide maximum benefit without any risk of causing injury to players.

He said: “People can use the pitches on the same day we’ve used the machine and that’s a massive benefit because we don’t have to shut a pitch down for a week. It allows us to make a solid plan with the machine and work on the pitches when we want to and if an area needs to be worked on close to a fixture then we know that’s fine.”

The ShockWave comes in five different models with the depth ranging from 120mm-380mm. Often it is best to start at a shallower depth to relieve compaction before setting the machine to go deeper on a second run and alleviate any remaining problem areas.

For more information, visit: www.campeyturfcare.com

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Council Looks To Rigby Taylor

Council Looks To Rigby Taylor: A revolutionary vertical drainage system is set to assist with reducing Wandsworth Council’s perennial misery of cancelled football games due to waterlogged playing surfaces on its Wandsworth Common pitches.

The non-obtrusive Groundwater Dynamics’ system – based on the use of vertical plastic pipes (EGRP) which draw in excess water horizontally – is being trialled on three of most troublesome of the council’s seven winter pitches and, depending on their success, the system could be extended across more of the 96 winter pitches that are under the borough’s care.

Council Looks To Rigby Taylor

As Principal Parks Officer – Operations for Enable Leisure and Sport, the operation that delivers Wandsworth Council’s leisure services, Steve Green explains:

“Being on a clay base, these pitches are forever flooding whenever we have excess rain and while the installation of traditional drainage would have been cheaper by up to around 20 per cent, we wouldn’t be allowed by Thames Water to link the new drains to surface water outlets (storm drains and sewers, for example).

“This alternative system not only means the water can be dealt with ‘at source’, but also that current infiltration rates can be increased by at least seven times [in some cases far higher].

“And the installation hardly impacts surface appearance – indeed, looking at the work, I reckon we could easily play on the pitches within hours of installation. In addition, the system will last over 25 years with regular vertidraining and earthquaking (twice per annum for each operation).”

Council Looks To Rigby Taylor

The system – which is suitable for all soil types and is in use on a number of sports surfaces, including at Edgbaston Cricket Club – was installed on the Wandsworth Common pitches by drilling a series of bore holes in a grid pattern across the playing surfaces.

Central rows of 3 m deep holes (of 89 mm diameter) are flanked by 1.5 m deep holes of 62 mm diameter, at 1.5 m spacings. The sequence was repeated at every 5 m along the length of each pitch. There are also adjacent bores to depths of 6 m and 12 m.

Each borehole accommodates an Energy-passive Ground water Recharge Pump (EGRP) pipe, the top of which sits 300 mm below the surface. The hole is then simply ‘plugged’ and top-dressed.

The innovative five-chamber EGRP design with its mild vacuum draws in water horizontally (to the deeper, 89 mm diameter EGRP pipe) and this then drains away into the lower unsaturated strata/water table.

“We have a myriad of users including private schools, academy squads as well as local teams using these pitches which are among the 1,600 acres of open space we maintain,” adds Steve. “The winter pitches are booked for seven days each week, so any cancellations always create headaches – and disappointed players!

“We started to investigate possible solutions and having such a good relationship with Rigby Taylor – from which we source (via idverde) a lot of products, including R14 perennial rye grass seed which we use across all the pitches, as well as selective herbicides, fertilisers, aggregates and topdressings – the Groundwater Dynamics’ system was presented.

Council Looks To Rigby Taylor

“We looked at the system in use at a football training ground (Fulham FC’s) and on a rugby pitch (in Bushy Park, Hampton Court) and spoke to the groundsmen there before going ahead with the trial.”

Steve has been with the council for 38 years and includes cemeteries, litter clearance and buildings maintenance in his remit, which embraces the management of three direct staff and around 100 indirect. He and colleague Andrew Green, who oversees and manages the council’s wide range sports surfaces, both agree that the former methods of earthquaking and vertidraining couldn’t cope with the waterlogging caused by severe rainfall.

“Nowadays,” says Andrew, “extremes of weather are becoming more common, but we’re totally confident that this new system of drainage will go a long way in reducing a problem we’ve had for years on these pitches.”

For more information, visit: www.rigbytaylor.com

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Award For Council Groundsman

Award For Council Groundsman: An award has been presented to a member of Tendring District Council’s Open Spaces team for his work maintaining a popular cricket pitch.

Chris Russell won the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Cricket Championship Groundsman Award at the annual general meeting of the Essex Cricket Board Groundsman Association.

Award For Council Groundsman

Chris was given the award for his work preparing pitches at Clacton Cricket Club’s Vista Road ground during the 2017 season. The pitches received top marks from a panel of umpires right across the season.

Stuart Kerrison, head groundsman at Essex County Cricket Club’s Chelmsford ground, presented Chris with his award.

Barry Dunwell, the outgoing chairman of Clacton Cricket Club, said the club was fortunate to have such a hard-working, dedicated and conscientious groundsman preparing their pitches.

“It was not a surprise that Chris received this accolade for his efforts,” he added.

Chris works at a number of recreation grounds right across the District in his role with Tendring District Council.

Trevor Mills, Open Space Manager at Tendring District Council, added his congratulations to Chris.

“We all know how hard Chris works to look after our open spaces, and his sterling efforts at Clacton Cricket Club are just one example of his year-round fine work,” he said.

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