Birmingham Clean Air Zone: driver charged despite not entering the zone

The Clean Air Zone in Birmingham has been introduced to tackle poor air quality in the city, but a driver says he has been charged despite never entering the area

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A driver has been left “stressed and anxious” after he claims he was charged for travelling through Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone - despite not entering the zone.

Fifty-nine-year-old Steve Wainwright drove to Birmingham from Stratford-upon-Avon on 14 September 2021.

He says he intentionally avoided Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone, but a few days later on October 5, he received a fine in the post.

Despite sending off for representation, he says he is yet to receive a response about his fine.

Birmingham City Council says it has published “clear guidelines on how it considers all representations”.

Council leader Cllr Ian Ward previously apologised about the system after several drivers complained about erroneous fines to the media. In January the council also said that new checks had been put in place to protect drivers against Penalty Charge Notices being sent out in error.

The city’s clean air zone covers all the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, but not the Middleway itself. A campaign has been launched to end the Clean Air Zone which has attracted more than 1,500 followers on the Facebook page.

No vehicle is banned in the zone, but those which do not meet the emissions standards for the zone are caught on cameras and have to pay a daily charge if they travel within the area, which are £8 a day for cars, vans and taxis, or £50 a day for HGVs and coaches.

Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone been controversial in the cityBirmingham’s Clean Air Zone been controversial in the city
Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone been controversial in the city

What did Mr Wainwright say about his journey and fine?

Speaking to BirminghamWorld, Mr Wainwright, said: “I left the M6 due to terrible traffic, and travelled up the Aston Expressway.

“I realised I was going to go into the clean air zone (CAZ) and I knew about it so I followed the signs to avoid it, leaving the Aston Expressway at Matalan Island, following the Newtown Middleway and it was there where they (CAZ) photographed my car going up the slip road.

“The photo shows my car on a three lane exit going up to the roundabout, but I turned right at that roundabout and followed it right round with all the signs saying ‘don’t turn left there as you’ll go into the clean air zone’ - so I avoided any of the ring roads.

“I stayed on this route deliberately avoiding CAZ, but a few days later I received a demand for £60 - £120.”

If you are fined and do not pay during the allocated 13-day payment window you will be fined £120, reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

Mr Wainwright, who lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, says he sent off for representation on October 5 to appeal as he says he never entered the zone.

If people believe they have been wrongly charged they can challenge a fine through Birmingham City Council.

Mr Wainwright said he has spoken with the council about the charge over email, but he said hasn’t been able to get a full response about his case which has left him feeling stressed.

He said: “I feel terrible to feel accused of something I haven’t done, who have the time to reply to me but not the time to reply to my case.

“It’s just causing me stress and anxiety.

“I’m a normal law abiding citizen who is being accused of something they haven’t done and they don’t have an infrastructure to answer me, it’s disgusting.”

What has the council said about the case?

A Birmingham City Council spokeswoman has said: “For someone who receives a Clean Air Zone penalty charge notice they have the option to pay the charge or they can submit a challenge if they believe it has been issued incorrectly.

“If they choose to challenge the penalty charge notice they have up to 28 days from the date of issue to do so. And a challenge can be submitted online or by post.

“To make this whole process as clear and as transparent as possible the penalty charge notice includes the grounds for a challenge, in line with the relevant legislation, and the Council has published clear guidelines on how it considers all representations.”

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