Apology over Clean Air Zone fines issued to people who have never driven in Birmingham

People who have been issued Clean Air Zone fines incorrectly have received an apology following news a woman received 19 despite living 160 miles away.

Ruth Costello and her VW car which has been subject to 19 fines
Ruth Costello and her VW car which has been subject to 19 fines

Council leader Councillor Ian Ward made the apology at a full council meeting yesterday after a list was given of cases reported in the press since the introduction of charges in June last year.

But he said the “way the scheme is administered has been set by the Government” and said the council was making it aware of the recent cases.

Councillor Gareth Moore listed cases including Phillip Morton, 73, who was preparing to watch his grandson appear in a school nativity play 145 miles away at the time he was said to be driving in the CAZ.

Separately, a man from Wolverhampton has received £1,300 in fines for the CAZ despite never having driven in the area.

And Ruth Costello, 57, who lives in West Sussex, has received 19 fines totalling £2,280 despite never having driven in Birmingham.

Councillor Ward said: “I would like to apologise to anyone from anywhere in the country who has been incorrectly charged or fined […].

“So anybody who has received a fixed penalty notice when they have not driven in the zone – I would like to apologise unreservedly to them.

“The problem here is that the way the scheme is administered has been set by the Government.

“We have been writing to the Government, making them aware of these deficiencies in the system and we continue to lobby the Government to learn the lessons from the cases that Councillor Moore has highlighted.”

But when asked whether the cameras should be turned off “until the glitch can be rectified”, Councillor Ward said: “With regards to turning off the cameras, I would suggest Councillor Moore has a word with his own Government.

“Because they would take a very, very dim view of the cameras being switched off.

“I do not accept that the Clean Air Zone is an unfair tax on drivers moving around this city.

“What I would set out to Councillor Moore is that what we are doing in this city is taking measures to reduce air pollution and those measures are a public health crisis in this city and elsewhere around this country.

“So I make no apologies for the introduction of the Clean Air Zone. It’s a public health issue – we are cleaning up the air in this city for the benefit of the people of Birmingham.”

The Clean Air Zone has been introduced to tackle poor air quality in the city responsible for a reported 900 deaths per year.

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