WDH was established in March 2005, taking over Wakefield Council’s former housing stock.
Nine months later Young joined as fleet manager and inherited a transport operation of ageing Ford vehicles with most owned, but some on long-term hire, and little in the way of record keeping.
It was, in effect, a clean sheet for Young that led to Lombard winning the contract to provide the fleet.
Critically, in a departure from the norm, service, maintenance and repair (SMR), glass repair/replacement, the fitting out of vans with racking, roof bars and the like, livery, telematics and accident management were unbundled from the funding contract with work handled locally although, technically, the contract is classed as ‘with maintenance’.
“If vehicles are being operated locally then you don’t need national service coverage,” says Young.
"Additionally, I think better pricing and value for money can be obtained locally. As a result, the money that WDH is paying is going directly into the Wakefield and district economy.”
Young oversees a range of local suppliers – independent garages undertake SMR work although the local franchised dealer handles warranty work – with all vans serviced every six months to ensure safety and roadworthiness.
“Our tradesmen are skilled carpenters, plumbers and the like and not professional drivers. Although they undertake daily vehicle checks, I am a great believer in vehicles being regularly checked by mechanics,” explains Young.
“It is a policy of preventative maintenance.”
The policy means that SMR work can be planned with garages undertaking routine servicing on a while-you-wait basis.
This will reduce downtime compared with drivers having to remove tools and equipment from vehicles and load into another van and then reverse the process once work is completed.
Following the switch to Hitachi, tyre repair and replacement is via ATS but all other vehicle-related requirements are managed by Young through local suppliers.
“As all vehicle-related work can be planned, it means that there is virtually no requirement for daily rental vehicles,” explains Young, who has individual invoices sent to Hitachi for payment with any costs outside of the contract terms recharged on a monthly basis back to WDH.
New vans arrive equipped with requested factory-fit options, but then Young utilises an army of local suppliers to make the vehicles ‘ready for purpose’, according to a strictly self-designed build sheet that has been compiled in partnership with suppliers and drivers.
Electric vans or hydrogen?
The urban stop-start nature of the fleet would, in some eyes, mean that electric vans could have a place at WDH.
However, explains Young: “Vans are operating at the upper level of their payload and battery range would be compromised by carrying the weight of goods and equipment required.
Additionally, we would require a major recharging infrastructure to be established in the area.