Council chiefs in the Oxfordshire town of Banbury have drafted in a specially equipped 4×4 FUSO Canter to help keep the streets clear of ice and snow this winter.
The 6.5-tonne Canter 6C18 was supplied by Mercedes-Benz Dealer Euro Commercials (South Wales) – the German manufacturer’s franchised network is responsible for sales and support of the popular Japanese light truck range in the UK.
The truck came with a demountable snowplough blade and gritting hopper/spreader by US specialist Meyer. It is also fitted with a Neath Coachbuilders dropside body and a 5.0 tonne/metre Hiab XS 055 crane which is used to lift 1.0-tonne bags of grit.
The Canter’s arrival coincides with the recruitment by Banbury Town Council of teams of volunteer ‘snow wardens’, who are being provided with shovels, high visibility jackets and gloves, as well as training sessions on how to clear snow effectively and safely from minor roads and pavements in their neighbourhoods.
The authority hopes to be able to call upon some 200 of these wardens when temperatures plummet. Town Council Leader Kieron Mallon was inspired to launch the scheme after one of his constituents was unable to get his frozen car off his drive last winter to take his daughter – who was in labour – to hospital, because the grit bin in his street was empty.
"We want volunteers to link with each other so there will be a co-ordinated response to clearing the roads," he says. "It’s a good use of council tax payers’ money if we can keep Banbury moving in adverse weather conditions, so people can still go about their daily lives."
Euro Commercials won the order for the Canter after responding to a tender document submitted via The Procurement Partnership, a leading provider of specialist procurement services to UK local authorities.
Banbury Town Council’s vehicle has a three-seat Comfort cab – a seven-seat crew version is also available – and, thanks to its space-saving, cab-over-engine layout, is relatively compact and highly manoeuvrable.
Mike Hall, Banbury’s Recreation & Amenities Manager, says: "The truck’s all-wheel drive capability means it will still be able to get around on snow and ice. It can also access small, residential roads to deliver bags of grit, and, when fitted with its demountable plough blade and hopper, undertake snow clearing and gritting operations."
The 4×4 model combines the road-going Canter’s well-established virtues of rugged reliability and low running costs, with high traction, a limited slip differential on the rear axle, and a body and payload allowance of up to 3,880 kg.
It has a 129 kW (175 hp) engine and five-speed manual gearbox with dashboard-mounted shift lever for easy cross-cab access. Drive to the front axle can be selected or disengaged on the move, to maximise the efficient engine’s excellent fuel economy.
The 4×4 chassis is also significantly higher than standard Canter variants, the increased ground clearance allowing uneven terrain and steep slopes to be tackled with confidence.
Mr Hall adds: "We’re very pleased with our 4×4 Canter, which is ideally suited to the primary role for which it was commissioned and will be used to undertake a variety of general tasks, some of them off road, during the rest of the year. Euro Commercials’ Municipal Sales Specialist Richard Harvey was also very helpful when we came to specify the vehicle."
Like other Canter models, Banbury Town Council’s new vehicle is backed by a three-year, unlimited mileage, manufacturer’s warranty. Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler AG owns an 89% stake in Mitsubishi FUSO Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC).