But the terms and discounts negotiated by the county council for its 900-strong passenger car fleet means it is unlikely to achieve better terms by purchasing cars overseas. Keith Ferrin, deputy leader of the county council, said he was charged with cutting £600,000 from the authority's £40 million annual fleet budget during the 1999/2000 financial year, and that 'flagging out' the commercial fleet to the continent could contribute savings of £100,000.
'Local people have been saying it's not just a good idea, but a brilliant idea, and the reason is probably that if you live in Kent you are used to doing a lot of shopping in France anyway,' he said. 'People have been doing it for years, so it makes sense for us to be doing it and saving taxpayers' money.' If the initiative takes off, Ferrin said the county council could replace as many as 100 commercial vehicles a year with vehicles sourced on the continent, until all 500 were bought and registered overseas.