A taxi driver who wrongly received eight Clean Air Zone penalty charges has received an apology from a council after fines totalling almost £1,000 were cancelled.
Abdul Raheem is one of a number of taxi drivers who have complained to Sheffield City Council that they received the penalty charges, even though their vehicles meet emissions standards or were exempt from the scheme at the time.
Abdul – who would have owed the council £960 for the eight PCNs – attended a meeting of the council last month and criticised council departments for not working together better to avoid the situation, according to the Sheffield Star newspaper.
At the meeting, he councillors: “I recently received eight PCN notices while my vehicle was exempt. I then received a letter that they are all cancelled.
“Two departments are not working well together. They need to save paper and save the trees. If we want clean air, we need to protect the trees.”
The Star reports that Cllr Ben Miskell, chair of the council’s transport, regeneration and climate policy committee, replied: “Following investigations, the PCNs have, of course, been cancelled as you’ve mentioned.
“I apologise that the PCNs were issued whilst your vehicles were exempt. A few other taxi drivers have reported these issues as well and I am working with them.”
The council launched the clean air zone to reduce pollution levels in the city – and taking older, more polluting vehicles off the city’s roads was seen as the answer.
The council said: “We want the future to be cleaner and healthier for all who live in our city. Sheffield is committed to setting a higher standard for the people who live here and share Sheffield’s air. This means we need to reduce air pollution as fast as possible.
“Air pollution contributes to 250 to 500 deaths a year in Sheffield. It can permanently damage children’s lungs, can cause strokes, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Living alongside a busy road carries the same risk as passively smoking 10 cigarettes a day.
“Older, polluting vehicles are a major source of air pollution. We need to bring NO2 emissions within legal limits in the shortest possible time.”
The clean air zone was introduced on February 27 and affects heavily polluting and commercial vehicles such as non-compliant taxis, private hire vehicles and vans, but does not include private passenger cars or motorcycles.
To give taxi drivers time to adapt to the changes, the council allowed taxis and PHVs that did not meet emissions standards to be exempt until June 4.
Now, drivers of non-compliant vehicles must pay £10 a day to drive in the zone, and for coaches, buses, lorries, and HGVs, the charge is £50.
For drivers like Abdul, who receive penalty charge notices, the fine is £120, which would have meant him being charged £960 for the eight notices, on top of other charges such as fuel, vehicle excise duty and taxi insurance.
As in other towns and cities, Sheffield’s clean air zone has proved highly controversial, with protests held in the city and many small businesses including taxi drivers complaining that it would put a huge strain on them financially.
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