MALVERN Hills Conservators has agreed to buy a new tractor to help with its work of maintaining the hills and commons.

At a meeting of the board, members heard that the tractor currently being used has done some 3,600 hours of work.

In a report, operations manager Paul Sunders said the tractor, a Massey Ferguson 4355, is used for mowing, flailing and operating the cut-and-collect and chipper machines.

He said that after tractors reach 3,000 hours they start to need expensive maintenance and repair work.

The tractor needs four new tyres at a cost of £2,480, and it is likely to need other work, including a new clutch at about £1,000.

At present the old tractor will attract a trade-in price of £15,000, and a new tractor of similar model would cost £45,000.

A newer tractor would also feature air conditioning, which will improve the working conditions for field staff, who can spend up to seven hours per day in the cab during the summer.

Board member Chris Rouse urged officers to shop around, saying: "Many of the tractor manufacturers have been bringing their prices down recently."

The board agreed on the purchase, with the money coming out of the board's general funds.