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Council fears £2.5m bill for ageing vehicle fleet
THE entire fleet of vehicles owned by Worcester City Council is under review – amid fears that the upgrade costs could soar to £2.5 million.
Bosses say a “worst-case scenario” could see the council landed with a huge bill at a time when the finances are becoming increasingly stretched.
The city council owns about 50 vehicles, including vans, cars, refuse lorries, transportable skips, jet devices, tractors and sweeping machines.
Most of them are used by the cleaner and greener department, which is responsible for taking away rubbish, clearing up litter and maintaining open spaces.
But many of the vehicles are several years old and will need to be either replaced or receive more regular maintenance between now and 2017.
Council chiefs are examining the whole fleet and say one of their biggest challenges over the next five years will be decisions over the stock.
They are not ruling out the possibility of leasing new vehicles instead of buying them as and when the current ones become too expensive to keep in operation.
Councillor Roger Knight, cabinet member for cleaner and greener, said: “The costs depends on how we do it. The worst case scenario is replacing them all, but of course we won’t do that.
“Some may well be replaced but others may need increased maintenance, while some will be fine to carry on using.
“We’ve also got to take into account the option of leasing, rather than buying vehicles in. Any capital investment shortfall could be dealt with that way.
“All of it will be reviewed. What we’re trying to do is provide cost-effective, efficient services at the best possible value to residents.”
The council has an in-house service garage, near Worcester Warriors’ Sixways stadium, which helps keep maintenance costs down – but Coun Knight said another option might be contracting it out if it provides the best value-for-money option.
“It’s about finding the best way to deliver what we want to do,” he said.
As your Worcester News reported on Saturday, September 29, the budget gap at the council is forecast to grow to £842,000 by 2017 unless action is taken.
The council’s medium term financial strategy, a blueprint spelling out the finances, is currently being revised.