The new partnership sees Fleet Technique take on responsibility for fleet maintenance management, the provision of indepth management information reporting and consultancy services, pro-active scheduling and legal compliance for all vehicles, fleet administration and accident management.

Northern Gas Networks operates a fleet of approximately 550 commercial vehicles ranging in size from car-derived vans to panel vans and HGVs and more than 100 items of plant.

The company is responsible for distributing gas to homes and businesses across the North of England, an area covering West, East and North Yorkshire, the North East and Northern Cumbria.

Until last year the fleet was managed in-house by United Utilities, which had a stake in Northern Gas Networks. However, United Utilities, the UK's largest listed water business, decided to divest itself of its interest prompting Northern Gas Networks to go out to tender for the fleet management of the vehicles and plant.

Northern Gas Networks' head of maintenance Graeme Liddell said: 'Fleet Technique won the tender exercise because the company was able to offer a service which suited our needs. Fleet Technique clearly understood that vehicles play a vital role in ensuring we are able to provide a safe and reliable gas supply to 2.6 million customers across the North of England. People rely on us to provide a 24/7 gas emergency service and our fleet of vehicles are key to that.'

The firm is also turning to Fleet Technique to help further improve its occupational road risk management with the introduction of driving licence checking through a link with the DVLA and the introduction of driver training for employees found to be "high" risk.