Council issues more than 800 clean air zone fines to itself

More than 800 fines have been issued by the city council to itself for not paying Clean Air Zone charges – with £13,000 paid so far.

Birmingham City Council has revealed it has now issued itself 834 penalty charge notices (PCNs) since the start of charging for the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) on June 14.

It was reported in July the council had fined itself 82 times for non-payment of the £8 or £50-per-day charge.

The city council gave the figure in response to a written question from Councillor Simon Morrall ahead of Tuesday’s full council meeting.

The council was not able to give the number of charges paid on time by the council – only instances where a fine was issued.

The response states: “Unfortunately, the Clean Air Zone team is unable to provide details for ‘charges’ paid by the council as we are unable to identify the names of individuals or organisations from the payment platforms.

“In terms of fines, Birmingham City Council had been issued with 834 PCNs up to August 31.

“To date, 751 of these PCNs have been paid. 617 were at the £8 daily fee rate, 132 were at the reduced PCN rate of £60. The remainder (2) were at the full PCN rate (£120).”

Councillor John O’Shea, cabinet member for street scene and parks, has previously said the council’s garage facility for refuse collection vehicles is inside the Clean Air Zone, meaning “all vehicles will need to go inside it from time-to-time for maintenance and safety checks”.

The council is planning to build two new depots outside the CAZ, and is also “delivering a cleaner fleet so all vehicles in the city meet the standards required inside the CAZ”, he said.

Any money raised from the zone has to be reinvested in transport related projects and policies, but city centre improvements due to be funded by the CAZ have been described as “vanity projects” by the Conservative group.

A map showing that the Clean Air Zone applies to everything within the A4540 Middleway ring road but not the road itself. Photo: Birmingham City Council

Leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Robert Alden, said: “These figures stink of hypocrisy.

“The council claimed that introducing their travel tax would encourage those with older vehicles to upgrade their cars, but from day one we raised how those on lower incomes simply would not be able to afford to do so and be left, unfairly, paying £8 a day charge making it even harder to upgrade their car.

“Not only this but Labours travel tax is shifting money from cleaning streets to give it to city centre vanity projects with every fine they incur.”

Councillor Meirion Jenkins, shadow cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “The sheer volume of fines that the council has incurred on its own travel tax is eye-watering.

“This represents such a waste of money for Birmingham tax payers as the council incurs overhead and bureaucracy in transferring wooden dollars from one department to another, in the process moving money from operational departments, such as bin collection, to other more long term expenditure which has no direct impact on the services currently being delivered to long suffering residents.

“Not only are the council driving polluting vehicles around the city, they seemingly can’t even use their own payment system that they expect residents to use. Same old Labour, hopeless with money.”

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “The council is working to minimise the amount it has to pay in Clean Air Zone charges and fees by greening its fleet across all departments and by ensuring that the processes are in place to ensure prompt payment of charges.

“It must be remembered that all Clean Air Zone monies are reinvested into projects promoting sustainable travel and reducing the risks posed by poor air quality which contributes to approximately 1,000 deaths locally per year in Birmingham alone.”

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