Two merging local authorities sharing best practise fleet management techniques could see their costs fall by up to £3.5m. St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council will be implementing a wide range of changes to streamline costs in order to meet tough public sector budget requirements. A policy to share fleet resources started as much as six years ago and has since developed into shared service operation, with technical manager Phil Clifford overseeing management across both councils: Clifford said: 'There is a real raft of changes across the councils. On the fleet side, we have been doing fleet maintenance for Forest Heath for six years on a contract basis, billing for repairs. 'Then the two council's waste departments joined forces three to four years ago. That has been working well.î The joint fleet service has 28 heavy vehicles, 54 vans and 50 cars, with recent work focusing on vehicle allocation and standardisation policies. The councils have been trying to increase efficiency by reducing their number of fleet trucks, which account for the largest proportion of spending and generate the highest fuel costs: 'For cars, we have established a common leasing scheme, which has been written as a west Suffolk scheme using the Government Procurement Service framework agreement,î said Clifford. 'We are alloying things together and there are some changes to finalise common standards, but we are getting everything on an even keel. This is happening all over the country, with councils sharing in the same way.î Clifford's work so far has included a programme to reduce emissions across St Edmundsbury Council through alternative modes of transport and cleaner vehicles. Employees and managers are encouraged to follow a seven-step process to consider clean vehicles first, with options including the council's bicycles and subsidised bus services. St Edmundsbury Council has been working closely with the Energy Saving Trust, taking part in a Green Fleet Review to identify strategies to reduce fleet emissions and more efficiently manage grey fleet vehicles. 'The focus is on getting the maximum return on investment, so we are doing everything we can to get more efficient vehicles and reduce mileage. Transport is expensive and we can't do without it, so we have to use it efficiently. 'We have been working on a project to persuade drivers into alternatives, such as pool cars. Grey fleet vehicles should only be used as a last resort.î For improved management of your fleet, why not take advantage of IT Fleet's wealth of transport, appraisal and refurbishment services.