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The Somerset Guardian, 15th March 2023

Recently, the Penalty Charge Notices for motorists driving into Bristol's Clean Air Zone (CAZ) have returned.

In the first six weeks of the CAZ starting, Bristol City Council offered a grace period whereby anyone who received a Penalty Charge Notice could have their fine cancelled if they paid the correct charge for that journey within seven days of having received it.

Unfortunately, not only has this has now been lifted but drivers have complained that large areas of the city where the CAZ is applicable are not obvious. The amount of penalty charges being issued has, therefore, increased sharply.

I have had a number of constituents contact me about the CAZ, expressing their disquiet that they will be impeded from working and the discriminatory way in which that it affects people. A constituent who has child with a disability cannot afford to upgrade their car to meet the strict requirements meaning that their child will be hindered from accessing all the educational and social events that they have been used to attending and that are so important for their mental and physical wellbeing. Another constituent, who requires regular treatment at a hospital, wrote to outline the extra strain that this levy is placing on them during a most difficult time.

Fundamentally, these revenue making schemes are a tax on the less wealthy who are more likely to have older cars and also businesses who have no choice but to use vans. They are also anti-motorist and whilst local authorities are compelled to abide by government legislation the way in which it is implemented is, via devolved powers, down to each council's discretion.

I remain concerned that such decision-making is elitist and exclusive, preventing people who rely on services in the city entering. Equally, if they were to do so, there is the strong possibility that they will be fined for going about their necessary business, which I think is deeply unfair and unethical.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance:

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