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"Wheelie" Good Report for Council Service

South Tyneside Council Leader Paul Waggott has today (Friday 14th June) welcomed a new report by the Audit Commission praising the work of the fleet management service which looks after all Council vehicles.

The independent report describes the service as "good and has promising prospects for improvement". The inspection team gave the service two stars out of three because the fleet is modern, well maintained and complies with environmental legislation.

The report highlights the service's safety record; its round the clock breakdown call out service; flexible maintenance and inspection programmes and vehicle test pass rates. It is also described as "responsive to the needs of its customers who are highly satisfied with it."

The transport section, which is part of the Public Works Department, operates from the Middlefields depot in South Shields. It has a fleet of 355 vehicles used by all Council departments including public works, housing, schools, community centres, security, mobile wardens, social services and meals on wheels. It has a large workshop where all repairs and maintenance are carried out and an MOT station for vehicle testing.

Councillor Waggott says: "I am really pleased with this report - it is another indicator that this Council is on the road to success. The inspectors were happy that the fleet management service provides a good service and professional help to all departments."

He adds: "It has an excellent safety record, professional training skills and a seven-day a week 24-hour breakdown call-out service. It provides the wheels to keep all our services operating, from the plumbers and electricians to the mobile wardens and the people who deliver meals on wheels. Council vans and lorries are seen everywhere in the Borough so it's reassuring that they have been rated so highly."

Mick Hannon, Commissioning Inspector, Northern Region Audit Commission Inspection Service, said: "The Council has responded positively to our recommendations following our inspection, and some improvements have already been made to the service. Strenuous efforts are being made to modernise and change."

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

  • The service's safety record and vehicle test pass rates with the Vehicle Inspectorate demonstrate that it manages the fleet in a responsible manner.
  • User representatives, including drivers, welcome their involvement in specifying vehicles and viewing demonstrator vehicles before the service makes its final selection.
  • The section minimises disruption to customers through flexible inspection and maintenance programmes. The service also operates a seven-day, 24-hour breakdown call-out service.

To help the service improve further the inspectors made some recommendations including: Developing a system to gather the views of customers, drivers and passengers on a regular basis; improving the relevance of service level agreements to individual departments and ensuring the service is cost-effective and competitive .

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