Cllr Andy Bowden
Cllr Andy Bowden

St Helens Labour Council’s plan to replace aging council vehicles with modern and electric variants – saving money and cutting emissions by nearly 100 tonnes every year – has been agreed today at Cabinet.

The replacement of 93 vehicles from mowers and small vans to gritters and refuse vehicles will allow the council to increase its fleet of electric vehicles and continue the transition from inefficient and unreliable vehicles to a new and dependable fleet, with a positive impact on the environment.

Replacing thirty-seven vans with electric vehicles will save an estimated 100 tonnes of carbon per year, supporting Labour’s commitment to net zero by 2040.

The decision will also save taxpayers money and deliver a better service, as older vehicles require more maintenance time in the workshop, leading to loss of productivity, and incurring additional expenditure.

The replacement programme represents an estimated £4.867m capital investment, offsetting these increasing operational costs – again demonstrating Labour’s commitment both to the services residents receive and to addressing the climate emergency.

Whilst other parties have carped from the side lines, or disrupted the work of the climate commission, with no credible or meaningful alternatives, we in the labour group have taken action, and are making meaningful change, delivering on our manifesto commitments, whilst our opposition offer nothing.

Speaking at today’s Cabinet meeting, Labour’s Andy Bowden – Cabinet member for Environment and Transport – said:

“The paper before you this afternoon proposes significant capitol investment in the council’s fleet of vehicles. A fleet required to maintain our waste and recycling service, look after our parks and open spaces, grit our roads, clear our drains and many more services we provide to our community.

This will be saving the tax payer money, deliver a better service and will mean our employees have modern fit for purpose vehicles to work in.

The revenue savings this will generate come about as the older fleet we are replacing requires to high a level of maintenance to keep it on the road, with a subsequent loss of productivity and with a negative impact on services.

As well as this, our decision today will have a positive impact on our journey to net zero as we replace our fleet with greener and more dependable vehicles. For example, replacing 37 vans with electric vehicles will save an estimated 100 tons of carbon per year. And whilst we may wish to go further, we have to be mindful that the priority has to be the services themselves.

Therefore confidence in the technology available to us is important. And we must not sacrifice the maintaining of a service on an over ambitious move to new and potentially unreliable technology, but instead ensure our new fleet is flexible enough to take advantage of improving and greener technology as it comes on line.

We should also see this paper alongside our work with the climate commission, Glass Futures, our leading role in the City Region, climate emergency grants to businesses and the voluntary sector, green public transport initiatives, the first hydrogen waste vehicle in the country, energy efficiency schemes for homes and more.

This Labour council is acting on climate change in a meaningful way. Others chose to carp from the side-lines, or disrupt the work of the climate commission whilst offering no meaningful alternatives beyond trite soundbites they are incapable of delivering on, or indeed it seems understand. All I recall hearing from our opposition in this council has been “blah blah blah”, whilst we in the Labour group are getting on with effecting change, making the investment and commitment required to get to net zero, as we committed to in the council chamber and pledged within our manifesto.”

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