Name: Barry Richards
Job Title: Operations Manager Fleet
Organisation: Bath & North East Somerset Council
Time in role: 11 years
Previous job: Vehicle Mechanic, with Bath & North East Somerset Council
Bath and North East Somerset Council that was created in 1996 following the abolition of the County of Avon. It covers an area of 220 square miles, of which two thirds is green belt. After being in the market for a considerable number of new vehicles the transport and procurement teams looked for a cost-effective and innovative way of acquiring them, Sue Hurst speaks to Barry Richards to find out more...
Councils across the UK are under increasing pressure to make cost savings, increase efficiency and even find innovative ways of generating income. This was the challenge faced by Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) when the need arose to replace its entire passenger fleet.
Needing to purchase over £1 million of vehicles is certainly not a small process to go through for any organisation however, following extensive talks with Jim Brennan at The Procurement Partnership Ltd it soon emerged that his expertise and the council’s needs could be combined to create a framework agreement that other organisations could benefit from too.
Barry Richards, Fleet Operations Manager was involved from the beginning. His role covers all aspects of fleet management, procurement, vehicle servicing and repairs, disposal of vehicle at end of life, LGV & PCV Operators licence, modifications, accident damage and investigations, bunkered fuel supplies, fuel cards, driver assessments and licence checking, vehicle hires and invoicing.
Barry and his fleet team are always looking at ways of saving money, for example they currently have about 35% of the fleet fitted with telematics which provides good analysis of driver behaviour and helps to monitor fuel use. They also pre-treat the fuel with Oxonica giving and average 5% improved fuel consumption.
Barry’s technical knowledge enabled BANES to establish exactly the right vehicles for the job. The Procurement Partnership was willing to work incredibly hard on behalf of BANES and made the whole process easy to achieve.
The reason for going through this process, however, was not only to procure the cheapest and best vehicles for the job. For the council it was part of a package. The need to generate some kind of income for themselves also came into it. Through setting up the Bus and Coach Procurement Framework (which also includes minibuses) it allowed the council to be entrepreneurial. It meant that it could benefit from a commission from sales to other local authorities and also the wider public/not–for-profit sector including NHS trusts, police authorities, fire authorities, leisure trusts, registered social landlords, registered charities, schools, universities and colleges.
Once the process was complete, the council then looked at other revenue streams. They asked the question: “If we can do this, what else can we do?”
Despite being a relatively small council, through being open to opportunity meant that it could generate income in other ways too. Offering MoTs to the wider public was one good way of capitalising on existing workshop facilities. Another way was to take advantage of expertise by providing training to hundreds of people in safer driving and offering minibus training.
Of course one thing leads to another and since setting up the Bus and Coach Procurement Framework, the council has established an HGV and Specialist Vehicles Procurement Framework and, most recently, a framework for the Contract hire of buses, coaches, HGVs specialist and municipal vehicles.
So what’s in the pipeline for the future? Not resting on its laurels BANES is already looking to establish a Horticultural Framework – but you’ll have to watch this space for that one!
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