Our partnership with Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council began nearly 16 years ago and has flourished through changing service provision, multiple competitive tender processes and consecutive contract awards. However, never before has the council appreciated having a shoulder to lean on quite as much as during the current pandemic, which has been a huge challenge across all service areas.
Caroline Roffey, Head of Street Scene Services, Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council: “It has been a very challenging time indeed and we’ve had to work our fleet of vehicles extra hard to cope. We’ve been collecting up to three times the usual volume of waste and recycling, so we needed to keep them running for longer. Thankfully the SFS engineers in the workshop have carried on working as normal throughout the pandemic, keeping the vehicles in excellent condition with preventative maintenance as well as carrying out any minor repairs quickly. As a result, the fleet has performed very well.”
Dry recycling tonnages remain at above the levels usually seen at Christmas, which Caroline puts down to ‘online shopping and a lot more wine bottles!’
Workshop Controller, Ricky Stretch has worked on the council fleet since SFS took over the contract in 2005. He has worked throughout the pandemic:
“It was strange at the beginning as we had to carry on with the service and everyone else was in lockdown. It was eerily quiet on the industrial estate where the workshop is; like it is at Christmas. We worked with the council to help find the best way to operate the service whilst keeping crew members safe. In the end it was decided that the most practical solution was to have more vehicles and reduce the crew members in the cab from the usual 3 people down to 2. We also took steps to finish the round as quickly as possible to minimise the amount of time staff spent together and get people back home.”
Our municipal vehicle hire division, CTS Hire, was able to provide additional hire vehicles at short notice and the workshop team continued to carry out maintenance, fully supported by the team at head office. According to Ricky, the support from SFS staff was excellent as was the support from the council and vehicle manufacturers such as Dennis Eagle who continued to provide spare parts for the vehicles.
Ricky added: “The weather was great during lock down and everyone seemed to be out gardening or sorting out cupboards, so we were definitely busier! There was a big upturn in demand for green waste collections as well as a lot more recycling and general waste. On the whole we’ve coped really well. Staff at the council have been fantastic keeping services running throughout. An area where we struggled was getting PPE equipment in particular sourcing gloves to wear in the workshop. We didn’t run out, but they were very difficult to get hold of.”
In 2018 Hinckley & Bosworth Council carried out a comprehensive cost comparison and tender procurement process, awarding a third consecutive contract to SFS to renew and maintain its street cleansing, waste, recycling and grounds maintenance fleet.
Caroline comments: “Not only are we saving money by using contract hire we are really pleased to continue our relationship with SFS. We know we on them not just to keep our fleet running during normal times but also to step up in times in crisis to help us meet any unexpected challenges. Their support has proved invaluable during the pandemic and in helping us adapt to the ‘new normal’. Looking further into the future we have a partnership that will ensure we are ready to meet any new developments, challenges and opportunities.”