Bracknell Forest Council was named Fleet of the Year in the 51-250 vehicle category at this year’s Fleet News Awards.
The man at the helm of this fleet, Damian James, is not a typical fleet manager: his role is far more diverse and includes managing all aspects of the local authority’s transport and travel needs, which includes overseeing the outsourced contracts for transporting 1,000 children to and from school every day.
He spends just 15 to 20% of his time on fleet management activities, which is reflective of the changing roles many of his fleet manager peers are being required to take on.
As part of this, he recently audited the borough’s 37 schools to determine which needed his intervention to ensure those driving the school minibuses had the appropriate driving licences and that these vehicles are maintained correctly.
Following a review, James reduced the number of minibuses from 19 to 11 and introduced a system to ensure they were better utilised.
The savings have allowed him to replace six minibuses with new models, which now have equipment more suited to transporting social care passengers.
“The fleet of minibuses is now under my control,” he explains.
“Now users have to book them and so when they are not booked we can use them for other social care uses.”
The council has a Section 19 permit, which allows it to hire out its minibuses on a not-for-profit basis.
This means not only better utilisation of the asset, but also ensures savings as it allows local schools to use the minibuses where before they may have hired in other vehicles.
It is this forward thinking that caught the judges’ attention and led to James and his team receiving the Fleet News award.
As one judge said: “This fleet has made some very tough and difficult decisions in order to achieve its savings. Damian has taken a truly strategic view of fleet management with clear, credible and measurable outcomes.”
James also manages the alternative travel arrangements for school staff and leads a project for centralising social care transport.
He is also the holder of the council’s Operator’s Licence.
In addition he must, of course, also manage the council’s 55-vehicle fleet, which consists of 37 vans, 11 minibuses, four HGVs and three cars.