'Best Value' partnership map out the road ahead

The new regime imposed under the 'Best Value' concept is proving a catalyst in promoting partnerships between local authorities and their suppliers on the municipal vehicles front, involving also the fast growing hire, rental and contract leasing sector. These service providers offer a major market for RCVs and suppliers of bodies, lifting and ancillary equipment

Municipal Hire Services (MHS), which lays claim to market leadership among the UK's municipal vehicle hire specialists, is committed to the public-private partnership approach, citing its role in the success of Pendle Borough Council's Operational Services in achieving a two star award following the council's first "Best Value" revue. The company had initially helped the authority win its own refuse collection and street sweeping tender last spring.

Ian McInery, Head of Operational Services at Pendle, said: "We have been delighted to work with MHS, to ensure the deliverance of the highest quality waste management services to the residents of the Borough of Pendle."

The Audit Commission Inspectors, from the review team, commented: "Pendle Borough Council is providing a good service that has promising prospects for continuous improvements. We have given them a two star award for good service."

Ian Handley, Managing Director of MHS, said that Pendle's triumph "is testimony to the work we have all put into developing a Best Value culture, based on flexibility and the formation of partnerships.

"It is our intention," he added, "to build on the excellent partnership we have with the Borough and continue to provide a quality fleet of vehicles, whilst working together to make continuous improvements to our combined services."

Active hire scene
The buoyancy of the RCV and municipal vehicle contract hire and spot hire markets is reflected in the growth of other specialist companies such as Riverside which now operate a fleet of around 300 vehicles, approximately 200 of which are on contract hire with around 100 vehicles available for spot hire.

Operating nationally from its Merseyside base, Riverside plans to establish a strategic depot in the London area to service the company's growing business around the capital.

Riverside's Eric Knowles is another supplier on the hire scene who sees the "Best Value" concept as good for local authorities and the private sector.

Also developing its capability on the vehicle hire front is GPL Hire & Service, an operating division of the Loughborough-based Go Plant Group (GPL).

The company chalked up more than £10million in new contracts during the first six months of 2002, with new business in both the public and private sectors, including The City of Salford, Charnwood Borough Council and AM Scott ( a joint venture between Alfred McAlpine and Scott Wilson.

Patrick Tierney, Managing Director of GPL Group, points out that the company has maintained a relatively low profile within the industry over the last year as it has been focusing on winning new business. He added that GPL Hire & Service had more than doubled its turnover in the past 12 months.

"The new contracts mean we've invested in almost 300 new vehicles - from gritters and road sweepers to refuse vehicles and tippers," Mr Tierney explained: "As a major player in the spot and contract hire market we have an enviable buying power that enables us to offer best value to our customers, backed up by the support of a national network of depots and maintenance facilities."

The contract for Salford involves the supply of 18 refuse vehicles. Working in partnership with the City Council, GPL Hire & Service is supplying vehicles and sub-contracts the maintenance to the council's in-house workshop.

New municipal body
Another major player in the waste vehicle hire market, Noblet Municipal Services, has taken delivery of the first new Volvo FM12 to be fitted with a municipal body.

The Preston-based company was supplied with the 12-litre 340hp 8x4 by Thomas Hardie Commercials. Fitted with Heil Big Bite bodywork, the 32-tonne front-end loading RCV is equipped with a day cab and manual nine-speed gearbox and comes with a two-year service package.

Another three, similarly specified chassis have been ordered by Noblet and will also be fitted with Heil Big Bite Bodywork. The first is an FEL, while the other two, one of which will feature a Volvo Powertronic automatic gearbox, will be RELs.

Also new from Volvo is the FM9 which was on show alongside the FM12 at the IWM 2002 show in June. The FM9 on display was a 6x4 "B"-ride refuse vehicle in the livery of East Dunbartonshire Council. The truck is fitted with a VolvoD9A nine-litre engine, delivering 260hp and matched to a V1906PT Powertronic automatic gearbox. The vehicle was exhibited with a Globetrotter Crew Cab, capable of accommodating five people and was equipped with a Farid Eco refuse body.


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