Haywards Heath Town Council dismisses concerns about new electric vehicle for groundsmen

Haywards Heath Town Council has hit back at criticism of a new electric vehicle for its groundsmen, saying it is seeking to be an ‘eco-friendly as possible’.

Monday, 10th January 2022, 6:54 pm

The Mid Sussex Times approached the council after a reader raised concerns – but town clerk Steve Trice said the allegations were ‘factually incorrect’.

One criticism was that the electric van does not have a tow bar and can only run for 90 miles.

This had lead to concerns that the groundsmen could not use it for a suitable amount of time before it needed recharging.

Council leader Mike Pulfer, town mayor Howard Mundin, councillor Jim Knight and head groundsman Andy Stempt welcomed the new Electric Vehicle to the Town Hall in December. Picture: Haywards Heath Town Councillor.

There was also concern that the electric van could not tow equipment like mowers or water barrels.

But Mr Trice said that 90 miles would be ‘plenty for a day’s work in and around the town’ and that the van would be charged overnight.

“The van has the same storage space as the old van and HHTC has another truck to transport equipment and tow a trailer,” he added.

In response to the criticism that the new van is only being used for a limited time, Mr Trice said that the van needs to be stored overnight for safety reasons.

He went on to say it had ‘always been the plan’ to phase out diesel vans as soon as possible to comply with Government legislation.

Mr Trice dismissed the criticism that the town council was ‘pretending to be eco-friendly’ by purchasing the electric vehicle.

“HHTC is seeking to be as eco-friendly as possible and this is the first step for the van fleet in that direction,” he said.

He also dismissed the allegation that the town council was wasting money and not investing in the town.

“The cost of lease is less than a large capital outlay, which would have been needed in the next 12 months,” he said.

“At circa £4,000 per annum and a life span of ten years operationally for a van of this type, the work it undertakes will cost the same as a one-off purchase and associated costs over the ten years,” he added.

Mr Trice said that the van is on a three-year, fully-inclusive lease and said the town council could change the vehicle at the end of each lease period.

“Electric vehicles are, at this time, the only ecological way forward and have cost effective running costs,” he said.

Mr Trice explained that the town council had also been looking to replace their old diesel van in the next year anyway because it is more than ten years old.

He said they ‘took the opportunity to move for an electric van now’ so it could be brought into the council before the existing one had to be traded in.

In addition to the criticisms of the van, Mr Trice dismissed any suggestion that the groundsmen’s ideas about reducing their carbon footprint and saving water had not been listened to.

“The Town Council, year on year, is increasing the amount of perennial planting,” he said, adding that the ground staff had met with town councillors to discuss new sites.

They have also been developing wild flower beds across the town with the Haywards Heath in Bloom Chairman who is a councillor, he said.

“Watering regimes will be changed and a reduction of trips to Ford to collect flowers will be realised via larger deliveries,” said Mr Trice.