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Council / SIC buys car fleet for care workers to share

The cars were installed with trackers at Gremista in Lerwick before being based at care centres.

SHETLAND Islands Council is looking to save money on high mileage payments to care staff who drive their own vehicles on the job by providing a pool of cars for workers to use.

Around 30 Toyato Aygos have been bought so far by the local authority and distributed to Shetland’s care centres.

Fleet manager Ian Jeromson said the cars were based from “Sumburgh to Unst”, with the council covering all costs of maintenance and fuel.

The scheme aims to allow some members of staff with high mileage – like care workers – to pick up a vehicle before heading out on the road for the day.

It was initially piloted at the Isleshavn care centre in Yell before the cars, which are expected to remain on the books for five years, were bought before the start of the financial year.

Their use is not said to be mandatory, something which may be welcome for workers who could in theory be faced with driving extra miles on a detour to the car pick-up point, but the council expects the vehicles to be used “wherever possible”.

Jeromson said the cars are based at various locations around Shetland – including Brae, Sandwick and the westside – in a bid to be convenient for the staff using them.

Director of infrastructure John Smith said the pool scheme should save money in the long run by the council not having to pay mileage at a rate of 45 pence per mile for staff’s own vehicles.

He said the Aygos were purchased in bulk at a “very good price” and have a decent resale value.

Some staff, like joiners, have long had vehicles provided, but care workers have often used their own cars to visit clients at their homes.

It is also hoped that the scheme may encourage people who do not have their own car to apply for a job which may need vehicle access.

“These vehicles are for staff who face high mileage as part of their work – for example, social care workers,” Smith said.

“By offering a small car, serviced by the council, the organisation saves on high mileage payments to those using their own vehicles.

“The cars are also fitted with a tracking system, which supports staff care and safety, particularly for those working out of hours or in remote areas.

“Supplying a vehicle can also allow people without their own car to consider applying for a post which might otherwise remain unfilled.”

Jeromson said some staff are “still using their own cars for short runs” but chose the pool vehicles for longer distances.

Smith added that the cars, which are often used by three to five people, are “less carbon-emitting than older, larger private vehicles”.

More cars could be bought in the future if the project provides positive results, and electric vehicles could be looked at.

“We are happy with how it is going so far,” Smith said.