Specialist Fleet Services Ltd (SFS) is expanding its operations in the South West following the award of two new seven year (+7) contract hire agreements from Somerset West and Taunton Council and North Devon Council.
The councils undertook a joint procurement exercise and the contracts, which together involve the management of nearly 200 vehicles, commence on 1 October 2021.
SFS, which already manages the fleets for Mid-Devon District Council and Exeter City Council, will run the fleets separately although there will be some sharing of workshop facilities.
Somerset West and Taunton Council’s fleet comprises approximately 120 vehicles, primarily LCVs, and maintenance will be carried out at a new workshop being established at the council’s depot.
Stuart Noyce, Assistant Director, Commercial Services, Somerset West and Taunton Council: ‘I have worked with SFS previously and I am very confident in their abilities to deliver an excellent standard of service to Somerset West and Taunton. Decarbonisation is a major focus for us going forward and they will be helping us in the transition to electric vehicles, both in terms of advising regarding suitable vehicle technology and helping us to develop the appropriate charging infrastructure.
‘We used to have a number of different maintenance providers, which wasn’t very efficient. Now we have one provider for the vehicle provision and maintenance as well as a fixed price, which is much better for budgeting and provides us with a long-term view regarding our fleet costs.’
At North Devon Council SFS will be responsible for the management of approximately 70 vehicles, comprising mainly Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HGVs) including refuse and recycling vehicles and kerbside collection vehicles. SFS is also taking over the running of the council’s workshop facility, including the TUPE transfer of three existing members of staff.
Paul Burton, Service Manager, Operational Services, North Devon Council, said: ‘Our existing fleet is old and not as reliable as we would like it to be, which has led to an increase in missed bin collections. The new contract with SFS will replace our old vehicles with a new fleet featuring the latest low emissions technology. As a result, we can provide a more reliable service to our residents and reduce our carbon emissions.
‘Increased vehicle availability will create savings as we reduce overtime payments and the reliance on spot hire vehicles, as well as lessen wear and tear on vehicles. We also anticipate using SFS’ expertise regarding the addition of electric refuse vehicles to our fleet once the technology can cater for our kind of terrain and travelling distances.’
Four brand new refuse vehicles have arrived at North Devon Council ready for the start of the contract.
Cllr Netti Pearson, Lead Member for the Environment at North Devon Council, commented: ‘I am really pleased we have been able to secure this contract. Not only have we been able to work collaboratively with a neighbouring council, but we have also taken the leap into using vehicles that produce lower emissions. Air pollution is a worry for everyone, and I believe this is a great first step in making a positive difference to our environment.’
Bob Sweetland, Managing Director, SFS, added: ‘Winning these contracts further establishes our service provision in the South West and enables us to share our resources to maximise the efficiency savings for our customers. We are very happy to welcome Somerset West & Taunton and North Devon councils, and we look forward to delivering the latest vehicle technology, enhancing vehicle availability, and preparing both authorities for a low carbon future.’