Birmingham: Driver on dispute with council over clean air charge

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Clive Harvey, 39, had destroyed his bank card after the con attempt and, as he was waiting for a new one, the businessman was unable to pay three days’ worth of charges. Although he had told Birmingham City Council about his situation, Clive received several fixed penalty notices and has been told several times nothing can be done.

Clive, who is a design consultant and owner of an engineering firm, has taken the matter up with his MP Michael Fabricant.

The council, a Labour stronghold, said motorists have a right to challenge the notices but the 28-period in which Clive had to do so has now passed.

The motorist, from Lichfield, Staffordshire, said: “They (Birmingham City Council) don’t have an answerphone. It just goes straight to a dead line.

“If I’m failing with this system then who else is?

“I was the victim of crime (the scam attempt). It was a website handing over engineering documents. I quickly realised ‘this doesn’t seem right’ and did some more research and found out it was a scam.”

The city’s Clean Air Zone came into effect on June 1, 2021, Birmingham Live reports.

Clive was caught in it in December last year and, because the issue has been going on for so long, he now owes almost £600.

“When you appeal you lose the discount,” Clive said.

“Then it goes up to £180 and if they reject your appeal you have to pay. My next point of call was to raise a Freedom of Information request asking for financial figures. It’s my honest opinion this is set up to fail. I feel like the victim of a con.”

The controvesial Clean Air Zone means cars, taxis, vans, lorries, buses and coaches face a daily charge for coming into the city centre if they are not compliant with emissions standards and have not obtained an exemption.

The council website reads: “Please note you will not receive a notification or alert advising you that you have entered the zone and payment is due; you as a driver are fully responsible for understanding and managing all payments. If you do not pay during that allocated 13-day payment window you will be subject to a Penalty Charge Notice of £120, reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.”

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “For someone who receives a penalty charge notice they can pay the charge or, if they believe it has been issued incorrectly, they can submit a challenge. If someone chooses to challenge a penalty charge notice they have up to 28 days from the date of issue and a challenge can be submitted online or by post.

“To make the 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.

“If someone is unhappy with the decision of the Council to reject a challenge there is another right to appeal or right to challenge a penalty charge notice at later stages of the process.”

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