Orange ‘peeling’ to save more than £450,000 for Derbyshire County Council

Local authority fleets are being urged to search for savings to protect frontline services from cuts.

The call comes after one local authority reduced spending by more than £450,000 by ending its policy of painting vehicles orange.

Derbyshire County Council operates nearly 500 vehicles, of which 440 are orange, ranging from vans to minibuses and lorries.

Historically, when vehicles have been replaced, the council has spent £1,000-2,000 painting them or using vehicle wrapping services to match its corporate colours.

However, the council is facing £70 million in funding cuts over the next two years and is searching for ways to reduce costs without affecting frontline services.

Vehicles will still require replacement but the council will order nearly all of them in white to cut costs. The move is expected to reduce fleet spending by £455,000 during a full fleet replacement cycle.

A tender will be published within the next two months, before suppliers are appointed in August.

Council leaders were told in a meeting last year that current national procurement framework agreements do not meet the council’s needs, so it is planning to create its own tender for a maximum four-year term.

Derbyshire County Council cabinet member Dean Collins, said: “We are facing unprecedented cuts. By 2021 we will be spending a third less on providing services than we were before cuts to local council funding began in 2010, which is why we have replaced very few council vehicles.

“Our previous contract for orange vehicles was cost-effective but now it has finished we are going back out to the market to secure a new deal. We are looking to replace around 400 vehicles with an estimated value of £14.5m and by buying white vehicles in future we will keep costs down.”

The council’s 44 gritting and other emergency response vehicles will continue to be orange so they are highly visible.

The rest of the fleet includes 15 cars, which are unaffected by the colour scheme, and more than 300 vans and minibuses.

Local authorities and public sector fleets throughout the UK are coming under increasing pressure to find savings following years of budget cuts.

Some public sector fleets have merged their procurement programmes in a bid to increase discounts from suppliers and reduce administrative costs. In one case, 28 bluelight fleets joined forces to form their own buying consortium.

Arranged by West Midlands Police, the deal sees forces from Cornwall to Northumbria club together to take advantage of standard, unified specifications and make savings. More than 2,000 vehicles will be delivered over the two years of the contract. A similar deal has been arranged for forces in the north of England and Scotland.

Mark Lovett, head of commercial vehicles at LeasePlan, believes it is important for managers to regularly take a fresh look at their fleets.

He said: “Fleet managers can look back at what has changed since the last time they reviewed their fleet, determining the best, fit-for-purpose vehicles for their organisation today and in the future. When it comes to costs, there are many ways to cut back.”

TaxPayers Alliance spokesperson Dia Chakravarty concluded: “Reports like the one from Derbyshire County Council show that smarter spending can save taxpayers’ money without family budgets being squeezed by increasing taxes to fund frontline services.

“We always consider initiatives like this good news. Other councils should look into how they can emulate this. Every council has its own priorities and challenges, but they should look to each other for best practice for how they can make savings that don’t affect frontline services.”

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