Council fines itself 82 times for not paying Birmingham Clean Air Zone charges

A council has issued itself 82 fines after failing to pay Clean Air Zone charges incurred by some of its vehicles, opposition councillors said.

The Clean Air Zone in Birmingham was launched in June 2021
The Clean Air Zone in Birmingham was launched in June 2021

Birmingham City Council has introduced charges for higher-polluting vehicles in the city last month and some of its waste vehicles have been charged for using the zone.

The Conservative group, which has opposed the introduction of the zone, asked the council for the number of penalty charge notices issued by the city council for its own vehicles since the launch of charges on June 14.

The group said the answer it has received ahead of a full council meeting showed 82 penalty charge notices were issued in the first month of the CAZ’s operation.

The council has previously said each PCN for non-payment on the CAZ charge within the 13-day payment window will be equal to £120, reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

The cost for the 82 fines would range from £4,920 if all were paid in 14 days to £9,840 if all were paid after the 14 days.

Councillor Robert Alden, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “There is only one question that residents will be asking – Why should they pay Labour’s travel tax if they won’t pay it themselves?

Shadow cabinet member for transport and environment Councillor Timothy Huxtable said: “The council claimed the travel tax was all about air quality not making money.

“If it was about pollution, they would stop driving the vehicles in the city centre. Instead they tax residents while ignoring the tax themselves”.

Councillor John O’Shea, cabinet member for street scene and parks, said in response: “Our garage facility for our refuse collection vehicles is situated inside the Clean Air Zone, so all vehicles will need to go inside it from time-to-time for maintenance and safety checks.

“We are currently investing in building two new depots outside the CAZ, including a new council maintenance and repair site. We’ve already moved a number of vehicles to depots that serve parts of the city outside the zone.

“But we are also delivering a cleaner fleet so all vehicles in the city meet the standards required inside the CAZ.

“The first tranche of new compliant vehicles have been on our streets since December 2020 and over the next few years the entire stock of wagons will be refreshed.

“When vehicles incur a CAZ charge, the council will be paying for this from the budget of the relevant service area. That has been something we have been clear on throughout the planning and preparation for the implementation of the zone and any suggestion we are avoiding the payment of charges when due is a blatant untruth.”

Under the rules, higher-polluting cars, taxis and vans must pay £8 a day to drive in the CAZ while buses, coaches and HGVs must pay £50.

The Conservative group have alleged the two-week delay in the introduction of CAZ charges was due to the awarding of payment contracts being subject to a call-in on the day the zone was due to be launched.

But speaking at a cabinet meeting last month, council leader Councillor Ian Ward said there was “no need for any cynicism” around the delay of payments.

The Clean Air Zone has been introduced as a means of tackling poor air quality said to be responsible for 900 deaths in the city per year.

The council has been asked for figures on how many vehicles have been subject to a charge or fined in the early stages of the CAZ being implemented.

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