TWO Blackburn with Darwen Council bin wagons are in urgent need of replacing, council bosses warned.

Executive member for environmental services, Cllr Jim Smith, is seeking approval to replace two of the council’s seven-strong frontline fleet by the start of the next financial year.

He said: “The council has a fleet of seven frontline refuse collection vehicles which are currently utilised for collecting household waste and trade waste throughout the borough, with a pool provision of three spare vehicles.

“In addition, the council is maximising the use of the refuse collection fleet with four vehicles from the fleet being used each week on a Friday and Saturday to collect the garden waste generated within the borough. The vehicles are of varying ages.

”The oldest two vehicles are now eight years old and becoming increasingly unreliable with increased maintenance costs and by virtue, increased costs for overtime for service completion, to ensure that the work is completed and income generated from trade waste is not lost. By the time the new vehicles arrive, the two vehicles to be replaced would be nine years old.

“The main cause for concern in not replacing these two vehicles would be reliability which could result in a shortage of vehicles to complete the refuse, recycling and trade waste rounds, thus affecting service delivery to customers and jeopardising the £1 million per year trade waste income that the council generates.

"The availability of hire vehicles around the country is limited and as such we are fully dependent on the availability of our own refuse collection vehicles.

“The current lead time for these new vehicles is a minimum of 6 months. Progression of a tender as soon as possible, would help ensure that they are available for April 1, 2020.”

Bossess are planning to finance the purchase of the two new wagons through sale and leaseback, where the council would lease the vehicles over a five year period, to be borne by the refuse collection revenue budget.

If other cheaper options are available, the council would finance the vehicles through borrowing and the refuse collection budget would then be adjusted to finance this cost.

Cllr Smith added: "In April 2020 the council’s recycling contract comes back in house and will see the addition of six refuse collection vehicles added to the fleet.

"This means in effect that the three spares will have to cover 13 rounds.

"It is important that refuse collection and recycling vehicles are reliable because to hire a vehicle it costs over £1,000 per week, which is the minimum hire period, and currently availability is

an issue, as hire companies do not carry a large number on their hire fleets, as they used to.

"The two new vehicles would be utilised as front line vehicles with the pool provision being two at seven years old and one at six years old, to service the 13 round fleet.

"Should the service need to reduce in the amount of refuse collection vehicles on the fleet at a later date, any of the pool vehicles could be returned to the relevant leasing company, as the primary lease period has elapsed and the vehicles are being used on secondary leases, and can be terminated at a much reduced rate."