Green driving sessions for council staff

Staff at Newcastle Borough Council have been sent on a taxpayer-funded driving course to teach them how to reverse backwards into car parking spaces.


The 24 employees were given a “smarter driving session” by instructors from the Energy Saving Trust, who advised them to reverse into car parking spaces at night because reversing out of a space in the morning with a cold engine uses more fuel, according to today’s The Sentinel.West-Mids-TPA-logo


Fair enough, but couldn’t they have written this on a post-it note rather than waste time and money essentially teaching people who already (presumably) have licences how to park?


It turns out there were some more top-tips like changing gears less frequently, accelerating and braking more smoothly, as well as turning off the engine while stuck in queuing traffic. Inspired stuff.


The newspaper continues:


“The EST claims this advice can reduce drivers' fuel use by up to 15 per cent, potentially saving them hundreds of pounds a year and reducing their carbon footprint.
As the 24 workers drive as part of their jobs, the pointers could save taxpayers' money”.


Whether or not this advice has the capability to save money and the planet simultaneously, the question is, did it really require a course/play day to teach it?


“Michael Proffitt, the council's carbon reduction and energy efficiency officer, who organised the free training, said: "I thought the course would be easy, but it was quite weird”.


Weird indeed, Michael. You can’t really blame him personally. He must spend hours on the internet searching for the latest barmy ‘green’ course to send staffers on in order to justify his role and salary. The Energy Saving Trust website is probably his homepage. 


Reverse Members of the ‘streetscene team’ (don’t know) drove their usual route around Newcastle, and then did another circuit employing these great new tips. According to Head of Operations, Roger Tait, on the second run fuel consumption came down ‘for most of us’. Victory.


If you are dismayed that council employees are driving around, wasting time on driving courses when the a) they can already drive b) most people’s driving habits are fairly habitual and c) these tips and recommendations could’ve been sent in an email (along with their seemingly overstated benefits), then you’ll be pleased to know that the EST waived the charge they usually levy for their “smarter driving session”.


Oh hold on a second, they’re publically funded too so you did pay for it. Well, it'll all be worth it when we hear about the dramatic drop in fuel costs at the council next year...


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