Birmingham City Council spent £1m on vehicles that didn’t comply to the Clear Air Zone

A Freedom of Information request has shown that Birmingham City Council spent £1m hiring vehicles that were non-compliant with their Clean Air Zone policy
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Birmingham City Council has spent more than £1m hiring vehicles that did not comply to its own Clean Air Zone (CAZ) policy.

The figures have come to light in a Freedom of Information request to the authority which effectively declared itself bankrupt in September.

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The data shows that the council paid  a total of £4,054,699.94 to hire vehicles in 2022, the only full year for which post-CAZ data is available. This included £1.131,000 on transport that would be charged to enter the city centre’s CAZ.

The local authority owns 146 vehicles that do not meet the requirements of the CAZ and therefore would be charged if they were driven in the area, according to the FOI. An authority spokesperson said that when the time arises to replace fleet vehicles steps are taken to ensure they are CAZ-compliant.

The CAZ was set up in June 2021 to crack down on polluting vehicles and tackle high levels of nitrogen dioxide in the city centre. The charge for non-compliant cars and taxis in the West Midlands city is £8 per day, rising to £50 for heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches.

Birmingham Council HouseBirmingham Council House
Birmingham Council House

In October, councillors unveiled a report that said the area had reduced pollution by 17%, despite an increase in vehicles entering the zone. In September, a team of eight government commissioners were parachuted in to assist the authority after it acknowledged it could no longer balance its books.

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The difficult financial outlook has been driven largely by equal pay claims by council staff soared to £760m. The problems date back to a Supreme Court ruling in 2012 that found hundreds of workers in traditionally female-dominated roles were denied bonuses given to those in male-dominated positions.

Conor Holohan, from the TaxPayers' Alliance, criticised bosses for spending money on the hiring of non-compliant vehicles when the council faced financial troubles. As Birmingham residents prepare for huge cuts to services and council tax rises, news of this waste will only compound their misery," Mr Holohan said.

A council spokesperson said: "Vehicles owned or leased by the council often need to be replaced or upgraded due to operational needs. When the time arises to add to our fleet, we always seek where possible to ensure that new additions to our fleet are compliant with city’s Clean Air Zone. ”

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