The local authority for the Suffolk towns of Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill has finally stood down a Mercedes-Benz Econic it bought back in 2000 – with that kind of reliability and durability, it’s no wonder St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s latest refuse trucks also wear three-pointed stars.
Supplied by East Anglian dealer Orwell Truck & Van, 13 of the new vehicles are 6×2 Econic 2629LL models with rear-steer axles. They are fitted with single compartment 24m³ Faun Zoeller Variopress VP2 compactor bodies and Terberg bin lifts.
Also included in the latest order is an 8×4 Econic 3233LL, which has a 31m³ Heil Big Bite body capable of lifting and emptying skips. This truck has replaced a 32-tonne Mercedes-Benz Actros.
Although commissioned by St Edmundsbury’s Fleet & Technical Manager Phil Clifford, the new Econics are also working within the area covered by neighbouring Forest Heath District Council – the two authorities operate a shared waste and street scene services fleet under the West Suffolk brand name.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council was one of the first UK customers for the Mercedes-Benz Econic following its UK launch in 1999. Since then, the purpose-designed municipal chassis has been an ever-present on the authority’s fleet.
Mr Clifford, who this year completes 25 years’ service with St Edmundsbury, manages the combined West Suffolk fleet. He explains: "There’s still a boundary between our two local government areas, but from a routing and scheduling point of view we ignore it and do whatever’s logistically sensible, thereby ensuring best value for our Council Tax payers."
The fleet comprises 41 heavy trucks. Of these, 27 are three-axled 26-tonne Econics, several of them 6×4 variants which were purchased in 2004-05 but are now being phased out as waste is no longer sent to landfill. The line-up also includes a Mercedes-Benz Axor skip-loader downrated from 26- to 23-tonnes gvw.
Mr Clifford recalls: "I was a bit sceptical when the Econic was introduced but those doubts were dispelled a long time ago, as Mercedes-Benz established itself as the clear leader in the refuse collection vehicle market."
He continues: "Our crews appreciate the Econic’s brand image and high build quality, as well as its day-to-day functionality – we particularly like the easily accessed low-entry cab with its air-operated folding door, and all-round air suspension with on-board weighing.
"Our Mercedes-Benz trucks have proved exceptionally reliable over the years. We usually write-down our vehicles over eight years but inevitably get longer than this – and in some cases a lot longer – from our Econics. The 13-year-old vehicle we’ve just sold at auction was a great advertisement for the brand, because it just kept on going."
St Edmundsbury Borough Council has its own workshop but relies on Orwell Truck & Van for warranty work and parts back-up. "No such relationship is without the occasional problem but Orwell always comes up with a solution," adds Mr Clifford. "The dealer is very strong in this area and highly professional."