SFS lands two seven-year vehicle management contracts with South West councils

Specialist Fleet Services (SFS) expands its operations in the South West following two new seven-year contract hire agreements from Somerset West and Taunton Council and North Devon Council.

The councils undertook a joint procurement exercise, and the contracts, which involve the management of nearly 200 vehicles, have started on October 1 2021. 

Shared workshops

SFS, which already manages the Mid-Devon District Council and Exeter City Council fleets, will run the new contracts separately, although the company will share some workshop facilities.

Somerset West and Taunton Council’s fleet consists of approximately 120 vehicles, primarily LCVs, and the contract hire specialist will carry out maintenance at a new workshop established at the Council’s depot.

Stuart Noyce, Assistant Director, Commercial Services, Somerset West and Taunton Council, commented: ‘I have worked with SFS before, and I am very confident in the company’s ability to deliver an excellent service to Somerset West and Taunton. Decarbonisation is a significant focus for us as we advance. The team will be helping us transition to electric vehicles, both in terms of advising regarding suitable vehicle technology and helping us develop the appropriate charging infrastructure.  

‘We used to have several different maintenance providers, which weren’t very efficient. Now we have one point of contact for the fleet and maintenance as well as one fixed price, which is much better for budgeting and provides us with a long-term view regarding our costs.’

Reducing emissions

At North Devon Council, SFS will manage approximately 70 vehicles, comprising mainly Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HGVs), including refuse and recycling and kerbside collection trucks. SFS is also taking over the running of the Council’s workshop facility, including the TUPE transfer of three existing staff members.

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 new equipment featuring the latest low emissions technology. As a result, we can provide a more reliable service to our residents and reduce our carbon emissions. 

Transitioning to electric

‘Increased vehicle availability will create savings as we reduce overtime payments and the reliance on spot hire vehicles, as well as decreasing 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 contract’s start. Councillor Netti Pearson, Lead Member for the Environment at North Devon Council, commented: ‘I am 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 leapt towards 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.’

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 happy to welcome Somerset West & Taunton and North Devon councils. We look forward to delivering the latest vehicle technology, enhancing vehicle availability, and preparing both authorities for a low carbon future,’ commented Bob Sweetland.

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