Pproposals to modernise St Helens Council’s entire fleet of vehicles has been approved.
On Wednesday, cabinet approved the use of almost £3 million from the council’s capital reserves to fund the replacement of up to 96 vehicles.
The ageing fleet consists of 170 vehicles and have an estimated value of £12.07 million.
A cabinet report says the current age profile of the oldest fleet vehicles is above the national average, with 59 vehicles between eight and 14 years old.
The report says consultation with other North West local authorities indicates most replace vehicles that weigh more than 3.5 tonnes, of which St Helens has 88, before seven years.
Vehicles such as street sweepers, typically require replacement every four to five years.
The report adds that street cleansing and grounds maintenance services have been hit by a number of frontline job cuts and as such, will be reliant on additional fleet investment to provide greater mechanisation.
The current annual capital vehicle replacement budget is £600,000, which is funded through prudential borrowing.
Coun Lynn Clarke, cabinet member for environmental services, said it would take more than 20 years to replace the entire fleet without additional investment.
“The age of the fleet is putting pressure on budgets for repair and maintenance,” Coun Clarke said.
“As vehicles age they become increasingly more expensive to maintain.
“These costs can be reduced with investment in new vehicles.”
The total funding, including the current budget, would enable replacement of up to 96 vehicles.
Coun Clarke said the move will also aid the council in its commitment to deliver a carbon neutral position by 2040.
“New technology allows for reduced fuel costs and improved air quality,” she said.
“Investment will allow the opportunity to minimise carbon emissions in line with our aim to become carbon neutral by 2040.
“Investment in vehicle telematics generate 10-15 per cent savings on fuel and help to encourage efficient driving.”
The cabinet report says a fixed vehicle telematics system has been trialled on three refuse collection vehicles for three months.
Coun Clarke said this delivered fuel savings of 16 per cent.
The report says based on a more conservative estimate of 10 per cent per year, the council estimates that annual fuel savings per vehicle based on a £1 per litre would be £1,200.
The report adds that that up to 20 vehicles could be replaced by electric vans due to their low mileage.
Currently there are three electric vans and four charging points in Hardshaw Brook Depot.
Coun Clarke said in order to expand the number of electric vehicles, more charging points are required and said the council will invest in new electric vehicles where possible.
Cabinet approved the use of £2.891 million from capital reserves to fund the modernisation of the council’s fleet of vehicles, over a three-year period.