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Brighton and Hove council hits the clubs

Date: 27 November 2007   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Abandoning pool cars in favour of renting City Car Club vehicles will save Brighton and Hove City Council £30,000 a year as department managers become more accountable for cost, mileage, liability and time involved in using cars on business.

Instead of eight contract hire Honda Civic hybrid and Fiat Punto diesel pool cars, the local authority has access to a core of four City Car Club cars at a discounted rate.

Tim Moore, the council's head of fleet and operations, said the new strategy reduces CO2 emissions and increases transport efficiency in contrast to the previous system which generated "extremely high mileages, maintenance and damage problems".

He added: "There were no real rules about what these cars could be used for. No one took ownership for them. Managers of employees who used pool cars did not really care and we were concerned about accident liability."

Frequency of pool car use was erratic with "some departments needing access to four cars one week and none the next" said Moore, who explained: "Hiring when needed gives us flexibility and places accountability on managers on how much travelling is happening."

City Car Club secured the one-year contract against tenders from Whizzgo and Street Car and its area fleet of 25 cars ranges from Nissan Micras and Kia Ceeds to Civic Hybrids.

Moore said the council's policy had changed to "do we need a vehicle, from what vehicle do we need?" and monitoring pool car usage showed under 100 people completed 3000 journeys.

Moore added managers would have to be more aware of duty of care and less reluctant to check employees driving records, but "if they regress into using mileage allowances for employees' own cars they had to ensure there was business insurance cover".

The local authority continues to run 80 lease cars, mainly for education and social services staff, and Moore admitted a transfer of these staff to the club would need a "degree of confidence in being able to deliver services".